Ursula von der Leyen speaks at the European Commission and announces her new team | Photo: Reuters / Y. Herman
Ursula von der Leyen speaks at the European Commission and announces her new team | Photo: Reuters / Y. Herman

The incoming chief of the European Commission has rejected calls to change the name for her new migration commissioner. The title "Protecting our European Way of Life" is seen by some as redolent of far-right rhetoric.

On Monday, soon-to-be president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stood by "Protecting our European Way of Life" as the title for her new migration commissioner, despite calls for it to be dropped because of its similarity to xenophobic slogans used by far-right populists.

In a statement carried by several European newspapers, the former German Cabinet minister said the moniker reflected the values enshrined in the EU treaty and warned that "adversaries of Europe" were threatening these values of "tolerance" and "nondiscrimination."

"We cannot and must not let others take our language away from us: This is also part of who we are," she added.

But she called the controversy surrounding the choice of name "a good thing" that promoted transparency.

Loaded phrase

Critics of the title say that it echoes the rhetoric used by many far-right politicians in their anti-immigration campaigns and that its use in connection with a migration commissioner is particularly loaded.

The name was even criticized by the outgoing president of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, in an interview with Euronews last week.

"I think that this (title) will have to be changed. I don't like the idea that the European way of life is opposed to migration," he said.

European Commission Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas is to be the new migration commissioner | Photo: Imago

The incoming commissioner in question is Greece's Margaritis Schinas. In her mission letter to him, von der Leyen also spoke of upholding the "European way of life" through the proper management of migration.

"Protecting our European way of life ... highlights the need for well-managed legal migration, a strong focus on integration and ensuring our communities are cohesive and close-knit," the letter stated.

Author: DW News with sources: tj/rt (KNA, dpa, AFP)

First published: September 16, 2019

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