The French newspaper Liberation has raised serious allegations against Austria’s EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). Hahn is said to have allowed lobbyists to invite him on hunting trips and to expensive meals without his adequately reporting them, Austrian broadcaster ORF and daily newspaper Der Standard reported on Thursday evening. Hahn denies the allegations.
Hahn is said to have taken part in a hunting party in December 2015 that was paid for by the Belgian Landowners Lobby (ELO). According to Liberation, he would have been obliged to register his participation in the Commission under its code of conduct.
A spokesman for Hahn said, according to ORF and Der Standard, the invitation from the EU Commissioner was “purely of a private nature”. He took part in the company of his partner at the time, who had a hunting license. It was therefore not necessary to enter this in the transparency register.
According to Der Standard, Johannes Hahn is also involved in another conflict of interest: In June 2021, he met three times for dinner with the Austrian representative at the Court of Auditors, Helga Berger, once accompanied by his current partner, Susanne Riess-Passer, the previous one Vice-Chancellor. Berger charged the tabs to the audit office.
Hahn’s office explains, according to Der Standard, that these meetings are “part of the regular exchange that the Commissioner has with representatives of institutions/ organizations that are related to activities in the context of his portfolio”. Representatives from other institutions also took part. An entry in the transparency register, his team said, was not necessary.
Reported in cooperation with the Austrian Press Agency / APA.