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EU Energy Commissioner Hoisted By His Own Petard

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger
EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger
It's not always easy to be an EU commissioner. You have to jostle with 26 other commissioners for attention, and sometimes you feel restricted to your own portfolio instead of talking about all the exciting things that are happing in politics.

Consider Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who gave an interview to the German daily "Bild" that was published today. Surprisingly, it was not an article about pipelines or nuclear power plants, but rather it was about his thoughts on the current debt crisis.

And the German commissioner mentioned what some are bound to regard as a rather odd proposal: that the national flags of EU countries that break the eurozone's rules on debts and deficit could be flown at half mast outside EU institution buildings such as the European Parliament.

"That would only be a symbol, but it would be a powerful deterrent," he told the newspaper.

A commission spokesperson told me that it wasn't a commission proposal but rather an idea that the commissioner had heard from an unknown source.

The statement will at least prompt some discussion of Oettinger, who might otherwise be best known for his peculiar English.

-- Rikard Jozwiak

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