The new position of European Commissioner for Protecting Our European Way of Life is causing confusion among Estonian MEPs, it emerged from a discussion on radio show "Reporteritund".
Estonia's MEPs Andrus Ansip (RE), Marina Kaljurand (SDE), Sven Mikser (SDE), Jaak Madison (EKRE) and Urmas Paet (RE) were all speaking on the radio show on Wednesday, ERR reported.
They discussed the new portfolio handed to Greek MEP Margaritis Schinas, who was nominated to be Commissioner for President for Protecting Our European Way of Life, earlier this month.
A mission statement to Schinas from President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stated that the Protecting Our European Way of Life profile covers education, integration, migration, and cross-border security.
But Estonian MEPs are less convinced.
"It's a big bubble, a vague concept. And it's really about dealing with migration and other topics. My question is, why not honestly say that this portfolio also deals with migration and other issues," asked Marina Kaljurand.
"I am sure that I do not share the same European values with Jaak Madison. This name has raised questions among the Social Democrats, the Greens and also in Greece - the Greeks themselves are asking why their Commissioner was given such a strange portfolio, "added Kaljurand.
Kaljurand said she wants more information about the portfolio and believes it should be renamed.
Jaak Madison told Kaljurand that they certainly had a different understanding of European values. "But it is encouraging that at least we are already talking about it. And certainly the right-wing members must be present in this debate to talk about the dangers that threaten our normal European way of life."
Madison could also not clearly define what issues the portfolio would deal with.
"There are enough crazy people who cry out for democratic values at a time when they are not very respectful of them. We have seen in this Parliament that democracy is limited to the extent that it is suitable for certain ideological representatives. It is also a fact in democracies that a lot of the electorate supports right-wing conservative parties, and that's part of democracy. They too have every right to speak about European values," Madison said.
Sven Mikser said there is a lot of confusion surrounding the new portfolio among all commissioners.
"There are deliberately very confused areas of responsibility. Many sensitive areas are scattered or scattered among the various Commissioners, be it the rule of law, which in the previous Commission was very clearly Frans Timmermans' responsibility or, for example, migration, where we begin to see something that the lifestyle commissioner or someone else will deal with," Mikser said.
Mikser also said that several members of the new commission will have to deal with topics where they may run into conflicts with their countries of origin. He mentioned giving the budget portfolio to the Italians and the energy portfolio to Estonia, as examples of this.
Andrus Ansip, Estonia's former commissioner, also said he did not understand the new commissioner's job description and called it vague. "I find it frustrating that in the infographic that was presented at the press conference introducing the new Commission, the word culture was never mentioned. And when we start reading these mission statements, we didn't get full clarity from there either. But it can be understood that it is precisely the same Vice President for the protection of the European way of life who will be responsible for the development of culture in Europe," Ansip said.
Ansip said he is confident that the funding of culture from the European Union's single budget will remain as it is, but if the word culture is not mentioned anywhere it will send a negative message to the cultural people.
Urmas Paet added that the name of the portfolio will blur the picture.
"I do not like it either. I think that today the governance of the European Union needs to be clear and concrete, and that the responsibilities of the commissioners are clearly divided," said Paet.
Editor: Helen Wright