EU spokesperson yelled at for not answering questions properly at press conference

'We’re asking you – what the hell does it mean?' – EU official accused of acting like 'spokesperson of Germany'

Jon Stone
Brussels
Friday 15 June 2018 14:16 BST
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EU spokesperson Margaritis Schinas gets yelled at for not answering questions

There were angry scenes in Brussels on Friday after journalists laid into the European Commission’s chief spokesperson for not answering questions properly.

Margaritis Schinas, the chief spokesperson for the EU’s executive, was accused accused of being “afraid of Germany” and reminded that he was supposed to be the “guardian of the treaty” of the EU – after he gave a cryptic response to a question about migration controls.

The spokesperson was asked at a daily briefing at the Commission’s iconic Berlaymont building whether EU states could turn away migrants in a specific set of circumstances – as some members of Germany’s government want to do.

In response here simply quoted Article 13 of the EU’s treaty – but refused to elaborate when asked to explain what it mean.

“Why are you paid, for what? You are not giving any answer, any answer!” one journalist yelled out of turn.

“Article 13 doesn’t mean anything! You have to give an answer, you are the Commission. We’re asking you – what the hell does it mean, Article 13? It probably doesn’t have anything to do with this!

You have to give an answer, you are the Commission!

Off-camera journalist 

He added: “If you cannot answer because you are afraid of Germany, you cannot be the spokesperson of the Commission, then! You are not here as spokesperson of Germany, that cannot say anything because it would embarrass Germany. You are the Commission! general interest of the EU – guardian of the treaty! What the hell are you doing there!”

Mr Schinas responded: “We all appreciate the fact of sharing you your state of mind, I read Article 13 – you are free to interpret it and put it in the context that suits you most but I will not do this from the podium.”

The reporter who originally asked the question was seen to leave the room angrily after the non-response.

Other journalists later pitched in during the regular midday briefing to offer their support for the original questioner, though one frustrated reporter suggested questions should be perhaps limited to 30 seconds.

The question was related to an on-going row because Angela Merkel and one of her most senior ministers about whether Germany should start turning away more refugees at their borders if they are already registered with another EU state.

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