EC President Ursula von der Leyen’s Greek holiday raises eyebrows

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, walk during an event at the Ancient Agora in Athens, Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Louiza Vradi/Pool via AP)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

EU politicians have reacted strongly to the holiday of Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and her husband, Heiko von der Leyen, who spent three days on the Greek island of Crete, hosted by Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis.

The couple stayed at Mitsotakis’ villa in Akrotiri, not far from the town of Hania. As von der Leyen’s holiday drew to a close, there were growing concerns that the trip to Greece could affect Brussels’ relations with Athens.

MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld pointed out that the Commission has been conspicuously silent on the Greek issues that have been on the agenda in the past.

Athens has recently been embroiled in a series of scandals, including accusations that it is illegally deporting migrants, and there has been a sudden silence over the sinking of a boat carrying migrants off the Greek coast on June 14, which killed hundreds of people. Sophie in ‘t Veld said the European Commission’s silence on issues concerning Athens was worrying, calling for accountability and promising to write a letter to the body and initiate a parliamentary debate.

“She is the executive authority and is holidaying in one of its leaders’ villas, compromising her independence and credibility,” the Dutch MEP said about Ursula von der Leyen’s holiday.

However, a spokesman for the European Commission rejected any criticism, saying it was a private matter that was fully compatible with the board’s guidelines.

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