"European Way of Life": what's the message?

The Greek EU Commission vice-president designate Margaritis Schinas has been tasked with "protecting our European way of life". In this capacity he will be responsible for migration in the EU, among other matters. The newly created position is still the subject of heated debate several days after it was first announced.

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Adevărul (RO) /

An arrogant claim

In a commentary for Adevărul European politician Victor Grigorescu finds the idea behind the portfolio's name bizarre:

“Is it about values such as democracy and equality as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law? Other nations on other continents also share these values, so we can't lay claim on them as an exclusively European way of life. ... It's also unclear why the EU acts as if it were the guardian of the lifestyle of an entire continent which it only partially covers! Europe also encompasses the Western Balkans, parts of Russia and Turkey, and Ukraine and Belarus. So at least geographically speaking they, too, are entitled to claim they lead a European way of life. And the same goes for the Swiss.”

Die Presse (AT) /

A new cultural clash over a term

The criticism of the new portfolio's title evokes a sense of déjà-vu for Die Presse:

“A cultural struggle has flared up which is not about arguments, but about moral self-certainties. That was also the case back in 2000 when the political scientist Bassam Tibi from Syria coined the term 'Leitkultur' [guiding culture] and it was promptly interpreted completely contrary to his arguments. Tibi did not intend Germany to be understood as a Christian nation obliged to eat pork, but to give it an 'internal house order' which people could also also adhere to even if they ate or prayed differently - a guiding culture. His opponents didn't care. They wanted to misunderstand him.”

Ethnos (GR) /

This sounds like a German Europe

Ethnos finds the newly created portfolio very suspect:

“The President of the Commission is not among the supporters of a federal Europe, or even of rapid European integration, both of which are prerequisites for creating a long-term common lifestyle. On the contrary! ... It is to be feared that behind the sonorous title lies the quest for a 'Christian Europe' or a 'German Europe'. And in terms of content, it remains to be seen whether the new Commission will tackle immigration by introducing stricter border surveillance - or in other words using a failed formula.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

Qualities that must be protected

There is a European way of life and it is worth protecting, Naftemporiki stresses:

“There's nothing 'grotesque', 'sinister', 'fascist' or 'divisive' about the title in itself. ... It would suffice to agree on what this way of life means and by whom it is threatened. What is the European way of life as we have learned to appreciate it since World War II? A world of peace and relative security in an environment posing numerous challenges, like those of the past decade. ... How migration flows are dealt with, how to help people feel (financially) secure once more, what direction education is taken in and how employment conditions should be defined: all these issues have a lot to do with the European way of life.”

Público (PT) /

Migration control is the only goal

Historian Rui Tavares condemns the new job title of Greek politician Margaritis Schinas as ridiculous and hypocritical in Público:

“Mr Schinas's area of responsibility is 'protecting our European way of life', which sounds like a title from Monty Python's 'Ministry of Silly Walks'. Worse still is that the title is not only silly but also hypocritical. In terms of content it's about controlling migration or, as someone said, 'preventing other people from accessing our lifestyle in the EU'. Following in the worst tradition of George Orwell's 1984, in which the Ministry of Truth propagated lies and the Peace Ministry waged war, the names of the portfolios in this new EU Commission mean the opposite of their functions.”

De Standaard (BE) /

A dangerous choice of words

The Commission is kowtowing to Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán with its choice of title for this portfolio, De Standard believes:

“What exactly are we trying to protect? And against whom? A white, Christian Europe against a Muslim and African invasion? ... True, people long for a common identity, and want to feel at home in a rapidly changing world. The cosmopolitan bureaucrats in Brussels have ignored this for too long. And yes, migration is fuelling fears and a sense of unease. It's a good thing that responsibility for this policy area will be shouldered by a Commission vice-president, meaning it will be at the top of the European agenda. But by linking migration policy to the protection of the European way of life the Commission has conveyed the impression that it is adopting Orbán's framework.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Focus on the important issues, please!

Von der Leyen has expanded the migration commissioner's responsibilities, observes Kristeligt Dagblad:

“He is now the commissioner charged with protecting the things that make Europe what it is. Whatever they may be. Some Europeans still live in abject poverty while others are prosperous. Some can benefit from democratic rights while others still have to fight for them. ... Some live in societies with high taxes and publicly financed welfare services, while others have to take care of their own insurance and pay for it out of their own pocket. Imagine if the new Commission was less preoccupied with shiny new ideas and more focussed on dealing with Europe's urgent tasks.”

Webcafé (BG) /

The new Commission president's clickbait

Webcafé takes a humorous look at new EU Commission portfolio titles such as 'Protecting our European Way of Life' and 'A Stronger Europe in the World':

“One can't help noticing that key Commission portfolios have been given striking new names. They sound like they were taken from a manual on behavioural psychology or an article entitled 'Five Tricks for Influencers Who Want More Followers on Instagram'. ... It's just too bad there won't be any portfolios called 'Beauty is in the Little Things', 'Blossoming and Thriving' or 'Morning Meditation'.”