Frans Timmermans speaks at SDP event in Rijeka(Goran Kovacic/PIXSELL) Frans Timmermans speaks at SDP event in Rijeka(Goran Kovacic/PIXSELL)

Frans Timmermans, who currently serves as Commission Vice-President and European Commissioner for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, is running for the position of commission president as the candidate of the Party of European Socialists (PES). Speaking in Rijeka on Sunday, Timmermans said the city was a symbol of what Europe should be – a diverse community that has overcome historical hardships and is focused on the future.  

Timmermans said his hosts had briefed him on the problems of Croatia's Uljanik and 3. Maj shipyards, adding that Social Democrats would have to prepare workers for a new economy in the future. Shipbuilding has a future in the building of sustainable vessels, which use less energy, as well as in specialization, he added.

The European Commission, he said, would try to help look for solutions to the problems in the shipbuilding sector. If elected president, Timmermans pledged, “I’ll be on your side.” However, he added that it was important that the shipyards are under good management, the kind of management workers deserved.

Timmermans said he wanted to raise salaries and create better jobs. He called for three measures - a minimum wage in each member state of at least 60% of the average salary in that country, an 18% corporate tax on profits in the country where they are generated, and a reduced or eliminated gender pay gap.

Bernardić said Timmermans' remit, the rule of law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, was important to Croatia. He said it was important for the Commission to be headed by someone willing to fight for freedom and equality and against corruption.

The HDZ and the European People's Party, with their lead candidate Manfred Weber, failed to salvage Uljanik and 3. Maj, despite the fact they had the power and the institutions to do so, Bernardić said.

Asked about the possibility of post-election agreements with the EPP and ALDE, Timmermans said the problems faced by conservatives were that they wanted to continue behaving as they had until now, which he said was unacceptable, and their cooperation with the far right.

“Now we see, in Austria and Italy where that leads. We will never cooperate with the far right because our heritage is the struggle against fascism and the struggle of the Partisans, and if elected EC president, I will never seek their support,” he said.

Bernardić said Croatia should follow Austria’s example and ban fascist insignia.

Source: HINA/HRT