European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker has changed the rules governing the political activity of European Union Commissioners, allowing them to actively campaign in the upcoming EU Parliament elections.
Formerly the EU Commission, an unelected body which acts as the bloc’s executive and is the sole initiator of EU-level laws, was regarded as technocratic rather than overtly political, and not supposed to take partisan political stances of its own volition — at least in theory.
But the new rules will allow the Commission to campaign with, endorse, and support candidates and parties ahead of the European Parliament elections set to be held in May, Il Giornale reports.
“From the beginning I wanted this Commission to have a political value: the Commissioners assume full ownership and political responsibility for all the Commission’s decisions,” Junker said, adding: “I expect them to fully and personally engage with the citizens, and actively participating in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament is an integral part of this commitment.”
Prior to the new rules, Commissioners have not been particularly shy about voicing their poltical opinions anyway, especially with respect to Italy’s populist coalition government, effectively led by Five Star Movement (M5S) leader Luigi Di Maio and League (La Lega) leader Matteo Salvini.
EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici has repeatedly slammed Italy over the past several months, even referring to populists across the continent as “little Mussolinis.”
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In November, Moscovici even went as far as claiming that war could return to Europe if populists gain power across the continent, saying, “If we reintroduce divisions between us, North-South, East-West, and if national preference becomes Europe’s way of thinking, Europe will die… Without Europe, I’m sure the war can re-emerge here.”
The European Commissioner responsible for the budget, Günther Oettinger, has also made statements directed at Europe’s populists and conservatives in Italy, Poland, and Hungary, saying, “In my opinion, the [European Union] project approaches mortal danger… Some inside Europe want to weaken it or even destroy it.”
Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is also no stranger to political statements against populists. Last June, Juncker declared the need to destroy populism before this year’s European Parliament elections, and later that year blamed populism for several EU member-states opting out of the controversial UN migration pact.
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Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com