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Hungary has called on the European Commission president to withdraw vice president Frans Timmermans, the spitzenkandidat of the Party of European Socialists, from the commission’s work for the duration of his campaign for the EC presidency.

Gergely Gulyás, the head of the PM’s Office, addressed a letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, noting that the commission had been represented in the recent EP debate on the rule of law and fundamental rights in Hungary by Timmermans, its first vice-president. “We regretted to see, however, that Mr. Timmermans, as a long-standing critic of Hungary, did not hesitate to use his intervention as an opportunity for his own electoral campaign echoing statements of the Hungarian leftist opposition,” Gulyás said in the letter.
He added that commissioners are expected to perform their duties “with complete independence, integrity, dignity, with loyalty and discretion,” in compliance with the commission’s Code of Conduct. He noted that recent changes to the Code do allow commission members to remain in office while campaigning but “politically biased behaviour as was demonstrated during the debate should not be tolerated while carrying out his duties as a Commissioner,” he wrote. Gulyás requested for Timmermans to be withdrawn from the work of the commission for the duration of his campaign.