Left-wing groups within the European Parliament are looking to "blackmail" rival right-wing groups with the green deal, a source within the body has said. (EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ)


Von der Leyen’s serial private-jet use ‘a disgrace’, says Left party leader


European Commission President Usrula von der Leyen has long championed “green” development and environmental protection – but her own carbon footprint is less than impressive.

Following German Left party politician Martin Schirdewan’s request regarding Commissioners’ use of private jets, Von der Leyen came out top of the list by many air miles.

She took a private jet 23 times last year, despite the EC’s code of conduct stipulating that such aircraft jaunts should only be taken in “exceptional cases”.

Among her flights, Von der Leyen travelled from Brussels to Strasbourg by private jet three times. That was in spite of the fact that there is an excellent high-speed train connection between both cities hosting the European Parliament.

Overall, very few of the 27 EU Commissioners used private aircraft to travel in 2023. There were a total of 29 such flights, two of which were taken by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

That means Von der Leyen’s private-jet use accounts for 80 per cent of the total last year.

“It’s a disgrace that the Commission President is still relying on private planes in the face of the climate crisis,” The Left party leader Schirdewan told German magazine DER SPIEGEL on February 29.

In Shirdewan’s view, Commissioners and their staff should no longer be allowed to fly to destinations that can be covered by train in six hours or less.

“It’s impudent to call on people with little money to save energy but to fly from A to B in a private jet yourself,” he said.

The Code of Conduct for EU Commissioners declares that: “All options, including alternative schedules, should be carefully considered so that air travel is only considered as a last resort.”

It is not the first time Von der Leyen’s frequent flying has come under scrutiny.

According to official records, she used private jets 57 times in 2021 and 2022. An EC spokesman at the time defended that by claiming the Covid outbreak had resulted in “significantly fewer planned flights” being available.