Incoming European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen came under intense pressure Thursday to drop the controversial title of "Protecting our European Way of Life" for her commissioner in charge of migration. The odd-sounding name has come under fire from European lawmakers, some EU member states and rights groups for sounding like the xenophobic rhetoric used by far-right groups.
Outgoing Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker weighed in, telling Euronews: "I don't like the idea that the European way of life is opposed to migration." Euronews reported that Juncker said the portfolio title should be more precise.
Since von der Leyen, Germany's former defense minister, publicly attributed the portfolio to Greece's Margaritis Schinas on Tuesday, she has been increasingly challenged to change the nomenclature. An EU spokeswoman said she had no changes to the name "to announce," but pressure is building, especially from the European Parliament. It has to approve her picks who are meant to take office with her from November 1 and top officials in major parties are demanding the title be changed before hearings start at the end of the month.
So far, von der Leyen's team has defended the title she chose, saying it was set out in political papers months ago and Schinas's portfolio oversees not only migration but also education, integration and cross-border security. Her conservative European People's Party (EPP), to which Schinas and Juncker also belong, has refused to criticize the commissioner's title. But the three other three mainstream political groups demanded it be dropped.