The Hungarian government has called on the European Commission president to withdraw EC vice president Frans Timmermans, who is the spitzenkandidat of the Party of European Socialists, from the commission’s work for the duration of his active campaign to become commission president.
Gergely Gulyás, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, addressed a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, noting that the commission had been represented in the recent EP debate on the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary by Timmermans, its first vice-president.
“We regretted to see, however, that Mr. Timmermans, as a long-standing critic of Hungary, did not hesitate to use his intervention as an opportunity for his own electoral campaign echoing statements of the Hungarian leftist opposition,” Gulyás said in the letter.
He added that commissioners are expected to perform their duties “with complete independence, integrity, dignity, with loyalty and discretion,” in compliance with the commission’s Code of Conduct.
“We do believe that these principles shall be applied under any circumstances, especially during electoral campaigns.”
Gulyás noted that recent changes to the Code of Conduct do allow commission members to remain in office while campaigning but “politically biased behavior as was demonstrated during the debate should not be tolerated while carrying out his duties as a Commissioner,” he wrote.
The head of the prime minister’s office concluded his letter with a request for “the withdrawal of your first vice-president from the work of the Commission for the entire period of his active implication in the European election campaign by granting him an unpaid electoral leave.”