European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her testimony before Bundestag’s inquiry committee on Wednesday, denied personal responsibility but admitted “mistakes were made,” in the so-called “consultants affair,” while serving as Germany’s Defence Minister.
Von der Leyen was the last witness to testify in a case that grilled about 40 witnesses and gathered more than 4,000 documents. The awarding of contracts to external consultants during von der Leyen’s tenure in Bundestag from 2013 to 2019, costed a three-digit million amount.
“Public procurement infringements have occurred,” von der Leyen admitted. She acknowledged that during the awards procedure “mistakes were made,” however, she defended the employment of consultation services used by her office.
Addressing MPs of the inquiry committee, Von der Leyen said that one of her most demanding tasks as Defence Minister was to advance the Ministry’s digital agenda. She added that to this end, “outside help” was “indispensable” to facilitate the digitalisation of Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, as it could not be done by Bundeswehr “on its own”.
Opposition MPs also asked the former Defence Minister about the data “wiped” by her two mobile devices, with von der Leyen claiming that she was not aware of the event and that in any case, “SMSs are appropriate for fast communication,” while decisions that matter are taken “in person”.