Günther Oettinger, an outspoken senior German figure in the European Union, indicated that he might be thinking of stepping down soon. Speaking to Die Welt, Oettinger said he would decide whether to stand again after Germany holds the European Parliament election next year.
“I’ve already chosen the route of politics for four years,” he said. “So I have to reflect on what I am going to do if this is no longer possible.”
Oettinger is highly regarded at the European Commission, where he is the leading commissioner responsible for the E.U. budget.
Oettinger also faces accusations in Germany of sexual harassment, which he rejects. “I did not touch anyone,” he told Die Welt.
If Oettinger, who has served as environment and transport commissioner, decided to stay on at the commission, he would be under pressure to resign after months of bitter recriminations over the country’s planned exit from the E.U.
Both Kurz and Oettinger have been attending meetings of E.U. leaders this week in a bid to bolster the image of a union that Germans feel is under siege. Politicians across Europe have been critical of the vote, set for May 2019, and also of other E.U. decisions such as the introduction of the goods and services tax.
Kurz said he was pleased to see Europeans “still supporting this idea of European solidarity.”
Although Kurz’s support for a tougher E.U. was widely seen as part of the political background for winning the election, political opponents were not particularly pleased. Martin Schulz, leader of the opposition Social Democrats, dismissed the idea of EU unity when Germany’s leaders were talking about it at a dinner on Tuesday evening.
“Who wants to be on the receiving end of a complete annihilation by force?” he asked. “I can only hope that people cannot get their ideas of Europe from chancellor Kurz’s words.”
Chancellor Kurz didn’t respond, but later in the meeting defended his vision of the E.U., saying it was necessary if the continent wants to remain prosperous.