STA, 1 July 2021 - The European Commission's Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans did not participate in the family photo after Thursday's meeting of the College of Commissioners and the Slovenian government, reportedly due to Prime Minister Janez Janša's comments about links between Slovenian judges and the Social Democrats (SD).
Matjaž Nemec, an SD deputy, said on Twitter that Timmermans refused to join the photo in protest at Janša showing a photo from a May Day picnic at which several judges were in the company of SD politicians, construing it as proof that the party controls the judiciary.
The photos in question, in a tweet from Aleš Hojs, Slovenia's Minister of the Interior
@MatjaNemec pojasnjuje, da so se sodniki z njegovo predsednico @tfajon slikali zgolj slučajno. Sodnik Gazvoda je tudi slučajno oblekel majico z rdečo zvezdo. Slučaj je tudi, da EU poslanec @strankaSD @milan_brglez nosi majico Che Guevare. pic.twitter.com/Ik3DzDNlfm— Aleš Hojs (@aleshojs) July 1, 2021
After tense meeting of @EU_Commission with government of @JJansaSDS, @TimmermansEU tells @SZ why he did not join the family photo: “I simply could not be on the same podium with PM Jansa after his unacceptable attack on and defamation of two judges and two S&D MEPs” 1/ #EU2021Sl— Matthias Kolb (@matikolb) July 1, 2021
Timmermans did not comment, but reports by several other media, including the German and Austrian press agencies, dpa and APA, and the Austrian magazine Die Presse, corroborate the version of events.
APA quotes a source present at the meeting as saying that Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said judges were allowed to have personal histories and that they deserve respectful treatment, even when they have a different political proclivity.
Von der Leyen appeared to refer to the event at the subsequent press conference when she said that political dialogue demanded all democratic political parties be respected, adding that judges have the right to have a history.
Timmermans hails from the ranks of the European Socialists and was their Spitzenkandidat in the 2018 elections to the European Parliament.