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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (CDU): Even from Brussels to Strasbourg by private plane

Photo: Frederick Florin / AFP

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) continues to often use private jets for her travels.

SPIEGEL has a list of their flights, which was requested by Left Party leader and EU politician Martin Schirdewan.

Accordingly, von der Leyen used self-rented aircraft 23 times last year.

Because few of the 27 EU commissioners sometimes fly in private jets, the Commission will have a total of 29 such flights in 2023, meaning von der Leyen will account for almost 80 percent.

Von der Leyen even used a private jet three times between Brussels and Strasbourg, where the two seats of the EU Parliament are located, although there is a fast train connection on the route.

In view of the costs and the climate crisis, politicians are actually encouraged to prefer to travel by train or scheduled flight on their business trips.

According to the lists, in the previous two years, i.e. 2021 and 2022, von der Leyen traveled by private plane a total of 57 times.

At that time, a commission spokesman justified the high number by saying that significantly fewer scheduled flights were available due to the corona pandemic.

In addition, unlike many national governments, the Commission does not maintain its own flight operations.

The CDU recently nominated von der Leyen as the top candidate for the EPP in the upcoming European elections, the election is scheduled to take place at the EPP party conference next week.

According to the wishes of the Christian Democrats, she should also lead the upcoming EU Commission as president.

"It's a shame that the President of the Commission is still relying on private planes in the face of the climate crisis," said left-wing leader Schirdewan to SPIEGEL.

Schirdewan believes that commission members and their staff should no longer be allowed to fly to destinations that can be traveled by train in six hours.

“Calling people with little money to save energy, but flying from A to B in a private jet is audacious,” said Schirdewan.