Germany’s governing parties have issued a report absolving European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen of blame in a contracting scandal dating back to her previous job as the country’s defense minister.
The 75-page report by lawmakers from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) concluded that von der Leyen does not carry responsibility for awarding lucrative contracts from the defense ministry to outside consultants without proper oversight.
The former defense minister “hardly ever signed a decision paper on the investigated cases herself,” said the report, which was shared with MPs from opposition parties on Monday.
“Although her office was always informed of the decisive events, the decisions themselves were often made at the level of state secretaries,” the report continues, adding: “What also remained open was which specific events her office informed her about.”
The report is part of the work of a special parliamentary committee that was set up early last year to investigate the scandal. Von der Leyen told the committee in February that “mistakes have been made,” but insisted that those had happened below her level and without her knowledge.
The opposition parties are still to draft their own report on the committee’s findings in the next weeks before the final report on the investigation can be issued. That report is expected to be finalized in early July.
Green Party MP Tobias Lindner said that the government parties had done an “ultimately very simple” assessment of the findings. “A former state secretary and a retired general are being named as the sole responsible parties for the consultancy affair, so that an EU Commission president can act in Brussels with as few scratches as possible,” he said.
“The real question to be asked is whether (von der Leyen) could have known and should have known. That must be answered affirmatively,” he added. Von der Leyen has faced criticism during the investigation of the parliamentary committee after it turned out that two of her mobile phones, which she used during her time as defense minister and which could have been used as evidence in the inquiry, had been wiped.