Ursula von der Leyen has been accused of hypocrisy for using private jets on nearly half her worldwide missions.
The European Commission chief has touted a new ‘green deal’, insisting member states must go carbon-neutral by 2050.
But a Daily Mail analysis reveals she ordered ‘air taxis’ for seven of her 16 official trips since December last year. Commission data shows some were chartered for journeys that would have been possible by train.
Ursula von der Leyen was accused of hypocrisy for using private jets on nearly half her worldwide missions
Private jets emit up to 20 times more carbon dioxide per passenger mile than a commercial flight and hugely more than trains.
Commission rules state ‘air taxis’ should be considered only when no suitable commercial flights can be found.
But Mrs von der Leyen, 62, chartered a private jet to Britain to give a lecture at the London School of Economics before post-Brexit trade talks started in January.
The journey from Brussels takes just two hours by Eurostar, the mode of transport used by Britain’s trade envoy David Frost.
Another jet was chartered for a meeting at the former home near Paris of Jean Monnet, a founding father of the Brussels bloc.
The European Commission chief has touted a new ‘green deal’, insisting member states must go carbon-neutral by 2050
Mrs von der Leyen, Charles Michel and David Sassoli – the EU Council and EU Parliament presidents – used the session to ‘debate the future of the EU’.
However trains from Brussels to the French capital take little more than 90 minutes.
The data shows ‘air taxis’ were used for the relatively short distance to Berlin for a summit, before travelling on to the annual meeting of global elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Jets were also chartered for a meeting of the EU Commission’s 27 commissioners in Croatia, a visit to the Greek-Turkish border during a flare-up of the migrant crisis earlier this year and for meetings with officials from the African Union in Ethiopia.
According to the data, one of the most expensive ‘per person’ jets was the five-night trip to the Berlin summit, then to Davos and on to Tel Aviv in Israel to visit a Holocaust memorial. It cost £6,750 per person.
The Commission declined to give the exact bill or confirm how many were on board, but it is thought at least ten were, giving a bill of more than £60,000.
Brexit-backing Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘It’s hypocrisy. With the European elites it’s always a case of “do as I say not do as I do”.’
A Commission spokesman said some of Mrs von der Leyen’s trips had to be by private jet due to ‘scheduling constraints’.
Brexit-backing Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘It’s hypocrisy. With the European elites it’s always a case of “do as I say not do as I do”
He added: ‘Furthermore, when it comes to air taxi arrangements, often several commissioners are on board together with their staff and representatives from other EU institutions.’
Britain will no longer contribute to the bill for private jets and overseas trips when the Brexit transition period expires on Thursday.
Mrs von der Leyen, who took over from Jean-Claude Juncker last December, also listed interviews with German media outlets as missions, billing taxpayers thousands of pounds to attend them in Berlin.
During her maiden EU parliament speech she warned of the threat of climate change, which campaigners say is fuelled by emissions from air travel.
She insisted EU politicians and institutions ‘must also walk the talk’, adding: ‘We have to learn what this change means in our daily life, how to practice sustainability.’
Business chief who supported Remain and and called for a second referendum now praises Boris Johnson’s trade accord with Brussels and said it could provide a ‘springboard’ for growth
The Brexit trade deal and Covid-19 vaccines have paved the way for 2021 to be ‘a year of recovery’, the head of Britain’s biggest business lobbying group said yesterday.
CBI president Lord Bilimoria called for bold action including tax cuts to boost the economy and encourage firms to sell more goods abroad.
The 59-year-old founder of Cobra beer had previously taken stridently pro-EU positions and at one stage called for a second referendum.
CBI president Lord Bilimoria (pictured) says 2021 will be a ‘year of recovery’ due to Covid vaccines and Brexit
But in an upbeat interview with the Mail, Lord Bilimoria praised Boris Johnson’s trade accord with Brussels and said it could provide a ‘springboard’ for a return to growth.
He said: ‘Following years of fierce debate, the torture of waiting on deal or no deal is over.
‘Both sides deserve praise for reaching an historic UK-EU agreement. This is a big step and a mighty relief for many firms.
‘With a trade deal agreed, vaccine roll-outs starting and rapid mass testing, this can be a springboard to make 2021 a year of recovery.’
Lord Bilimoria praised Boris Johnson’s trade accord with Brussels and said it could provide a ‘springboard’ for a return to growth
Britain went into recession in the first half of the year as Covid-19 struck and lockdowns hit business.
And despite a record jump of 16 per cent in output during the third quarter as firms reopened, the economy is still 8.6 per cent smaller than before the crisis, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Adding to the pain, economists are predicting the country could now be headed for a double-dip recession because of the latest lockdown measures.
Lord Bilimoria admitted the pandemic was ‘nothing short of a nightmare’ for business, but said it has also underlined the strength of British firms.
‘Business proved itself,’ he added. ‘Even at this time of doom and gloom, we have shown that we can bounce back.’
After the Brexit transition period ends on January 1, Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak should focus on policies that will make the UK more attractive to foreign investors, Lord Bilimoria suggested
After the Brexit transition period ends on January 1, Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak should focus on policies that will make the UK more attractive to foreign investors, Lord Bilimoria suggested. He warned against tax raids on the wealthy, saying this would scare off entrepreneurs.
How the peer has changed his tune
‘I don’t think Brexit is going to happen because once people realise the implications of it, that it’s going to harm them individually, that it’s going to harm the economy.’
CBI President Lord Bilimoria June 2017
‘Both sides deserve praise for reaching an historic UK-EU agreement. This is a big step and a mighty relief for many firms… this can be a springboard to make 2021 a year of recovery.’
Lord Bilimoria on Monday
‘After leaving the EU, you need to look at what makes the UK the top two or three attractor of inward investment in the world,’ the peer added.
‘It is phenomenal – we are a magnet for inward investment, in financial services, in research and development, because we are an open economy.
‘The UK has to be attractive from a tax point of view. If you start putting up corporation tax and capital gains tax, you will stamp on inward investment and domestic growth. If anything, I would reduce taxes to enable growth and incentivise exports.
‘The Government could be bold and give tax breaks for exports. You need tax incentives, not tax rises.’
His comments come as Britain prepares to sign a trade agreement with Turkey this week.
The move was not possible until the Brexit deal was struck because Turkey is in a customs union with the EU.
The deal will replicate existing trading terms between Ankara and London but International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said she hoped a ‘tailor-made’ arrangement would be reached soon.