Set an example, Ursula! EU chief splurges £20k on private jets despite her OWN green drive

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Green campaigners have criticised the eurocrat for failing to lead by example while demanding member states are carbon-neutral by 2050. The EU’s most senior official has ordered capitals to “practice sustainability” as part of her “European Green Deal”. An analysis of the German’s foreign excursions found she had booked “air taxis” for seven out of 18 trips since December 2019.

Official information published by the Commission explains that a number of these journeys could have been made by train.

According to EU rules, the bloc’s most senior official is only allowed to book private jets “when no commercial alternatives can be found to fit agenda or security constraints”.

Express.co.uk can reveal she has spent almost £20,000 on chartering planes for her travels.

Mrs von der Leyen last year hired a private jet to make the short hop across the English Channel to deliver a speech at the London School of Economics before meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street.

The same journey between Brussels and the capital, just two hours by Eurostar, was made countless times by UK and EU officials during the Brexit negotiations.

Another plane was chartered to transport Mrs von der Leyen and her fellow EU presidents, David Sassoli and Charles Michel, to the former home of the bloc’s founding father Jean Monnet, just outside of Paris.

The top eurocrats, who used their away day to discuss the future of the EU, could’ve made the same journey by train.

Regular services, which take around 90 minutes, leave Brussels for the French capital every day.

Mrs von der Leyen’s team would usually take a similar trip by private jet every month to the European Parliament in Strasbourg but the institution has been closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

On another multi-leg overseas mission, the EC President charted a plan to transport her to Berlin before heading onto the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and then to Tel Aviv in Israel to visit a Holocaust memorial.

The ticket for her staggering journey set back European taxpayers, including Britons, more than £6,500.

But information published by the Commission only covers the travel for the eurocrat and not other passengers.

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Mrs von der Leyen also hired private jets for a summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa, migration crisis talks on the Greek-Turkish border, a meeting in Zagreb, Croatia and Madrid for a remembrance ceremony for Covid victims.

Green MEP Ciarán Cuffe, who sits on the EU Parliament’s transport committee, said: “Ursula von der Leyen does have a very busy schedule, but I’d encourage her to take the train, and use scheduled flights on longer journeys where she can to reduce her own carbon footprint and lead by example.”

Greenpeace spokesman John Hyland added: “Politicians everywhere have a responsibility to back policies that cut pollution, and to set an example too by using less polluting forms of transport where available.”

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Private jet prepares for emergency landing

Mrs von der Leyen’s chief spokesman defended her bookings because of her “amazingly busy schedule”.

He said: “The President selects the travel options based on the match between availability of transport options and an amazingly busy schedule – this can imply the use of chartered flights.”

Experts say private jets emit as much as 20 times more carbon dioxide per passenger mile than an average commercial flight.

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