European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker scolded his Commissioners for flocking to the World Economic Forum in Davos at a weekly meeting of the executive’s top brass.
Twelve Commissioners, including five Vice-Presidents, flew to the idyllic Swiss town for the 17-20 January conference in Switzerland.
There are currently 27 members of the College of Commissioners, rather than the usual 28. Bulgaria is yet to nominate a replacement after Kristalina Georgieva resigned. Georgieva was in Davos in her new role at the World Bank. Georgieva was also in Davos.
According to minutes of the 17 January weekly meeting of Commissioners, published today (2 February), Juncker said “that a more limited presence would have been preferable”.
He warned his team against taking part in “any form of political upmanship in which some might seek to draw them to undermine the unity of the Union”.
Juncker “stressed the need to adopt a coordinated stance targeted on the main initiatives that made up the European Union’s positive agenda” at one of the regular meeting to discuss political events and approve legislative proposals.
Commissioners often give interviews to the media while at the flagship event for the global elite in Davos and there is constant speculation in Brussels over their jockeying for influence.
At its midday press briefing in Brussels today, the Commission was asked if there was a problem with political rivalries in the Juncker administration.
Chief Spokesman Margaritis Schinas did not answer the question directly but said of Davos, “It is no secret that Jean-Claude Juncker is not a great fan and he has not been there for many years.”
A World Economic Forum spokesman refused to comment when contacted by euractiv.com.
Juncker’s deputy First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Vice-Presidents Andrus Ansip, Maroš Šefčovič, Valdis Dombrovskis and Günther Oettinger attended. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and Commissioners Pierre Moscovici, Violeta Bulc, Carlos Moedas, Johannes Hahn, Cecilia Malmström and Tibor Navracsis were also in Davos
Juncker last attended the WEF in 1997, when he was the minister of finance and prime minister of Luxembourg. Other attendees at the time included Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, who died in 2014, and Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then in his first stint as prime minister of Israel.
China’s President Xi Jinping, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and US Vice-President Joe Biden were among the speakers at this year’s event, which was dominated by fears of growing resentment of global elites and globalisation. Martin Schulz, then the president of the European Parliament, was also there.
EURACTIV exclusively reported last year that Junker warned his Commissioners not to skip the weekly Commission meetings. At the 17 January talks, 24 out of 27 members of the college were present.