If EU ministers negotiate politically explosively behind closed doors, it can also become loud. Officially, the lecture usually consists of "honest words" and an "open exchange of views". Sometimes journalists from diplomats get extra information.
But the fact that a minister secretly makes a video of a confidential meeting and is promptly published to expose a colleague, has so far been considered unthinkable.
Because now there is the Italian left bank, Matteo Salvini, among the EU Ministers for Home Affairs. He posted the video on Facebook and Twitter on Friday evening of a verbal battle with the Luxembourg minister of foreign affairs, Jean Asselborn. It shows how Asselborn – who is also responsible for immigration and asylum – reacted angrily to Salvini's remarks about migration and sharply reprimanded his Italian colleague.
At the ministerial meeting in Vienna, Salvini had, among other things, discussed the fact that Africans would be brought to Europe as "new slaves". "At that moment it was enough for me then", Asselborn said in an interview with the SPIEGEL. "All the others got on the ground, but I just could not stand it."
He also says nothing, such as pointing out that legal migration is necessary for an aging Europe or that tens of thousands of Italians come to work in Luxembourg. "I stay with what I said," Asselborn said. Salvini accused him of using "the methods and sounds of the fascists of the thirties".
"Then there can never be an honest discussion"
Asselborn suspects that he was deliberately lured by Salvini. "That was an exactly calculated provocation," said the minister. Moreover, the video clip is not an isolated case. The people of Salvini & # 39; systematically film everything what Salvini says & # 39; and would occupy strategic positions in boardrooms, Asselborn said. However, he has not noticed anything of the recording in the current case.
Recording and publishing a conversation without the knowledge of other participants is just as punishable in Austria as in Germany. Moreover, this matter was not just a conversation, emphasized Asselborn. If, in the future, you have to be afraid that meetings of EU ministers or possibly even heads of state or government will be secretly recorded, "then there will never be fair discussion again".
The process raises further questions:
- Have not representatives of the Austrian Government, who has held the six-monthly rotating presidency of the EU Council Presidency since July, heard nothing about the actions of the Italians?
- And if they did, why did not they stop this?
- What measures are being taken to prevent similar incidents in the future?
A spokesman for the Austrian government stated that they were "unaware of a recording". Misconduct seems to be seen in Vienna, but not in Salvini, but rather in Asselborn. One is interested in an open, factual and confidential exchange of arguments, so the speaker. This includes "letting others talk".
With the secret recording and the publication of the video by Salvini, the Austrian government apparently has no problem. For informal ministerial meetings, the spokesman said: "there are no EU rules."