Why this gaffe-prone German is making Europe cringe

Oettinger was recently promoted to become EU budget commissioner, one of the most powerful positions in Brussels, having already served since 2010 as energy commissioner and then digital economy commissioner.

The latest in a long line of gaffes came at a business event in Hamburg in October, where the 63-year-old was secretly recorded disparaging Chinese people with the terms “slitty eyes” and “chiselers”.

“Oettinger is the best paid clown in the EU. Now he only needs to be funny,” tweeted one user.

Another commented that “people with such a lack of etiquette and urbanity should only be employed in their own obscure province.”

This is far from the first time Oettinger has had Germans cringing in embarrassment at his bizarre utterances.

In some passages, Oettinger appeared not to understand what he was saying himself and began to omit challenging words and phrases.

He also bizarrely suggested to Bild in 2011 that EU member states which break rules on levels of public debt should have their flags flown at half mast outside EU buildings.

Comments he made in 2014 also met with ridicule. After several celebrities had naked pictures of themselves stolen from Apple’s iCloud, Oettinger said: “If a celebrity is stupid enough to take a nude photo of themselves and put it on the Internet, then they can’t expect us to protect them.”

News site Spiegel Online said the comment showed that the then 60-year-old “has not understood the affair about hacked celebrity images.”

Early this year, meanwhile, he suggested he would shoot himslef in the head if he were married to Frauke Petry, the leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD).

With DPA

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