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Juncker strips Navracsics of European citizenship responsibilities

Incoming European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has upheld the nomination of Commissioner-designate Tibor Navracsics of Hungary despite widespread objection from MEPs. However, Navracsics has been relieved of taking responsibility for European citizenship and will instead be responsible for sports issues. His original duties would have involved top-level liaison with European NGOs. However, after the Hungarian government’s crackdown on civil society, Social Democrat, Liberal, Green and far-left MEPs wanted to make sure that NGO issues will not be controlled by somebody closely associated with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Juncker made a difficult decision: continuing to support Navracsics is an extraordinary move given that the committee responsible for vetting his nomination judged him “unfit for the position” after two rounds of hearings.  Juncker defended Navracsics as being “committed to EU values”. The Hungarian will still be responsible for European youth and education, as well as cultural issues.

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