Made-up quotes of statements allegedly made by Frans Timmermans are being circulated on Facebook. We have checked what the Vice-President of the EU Commission actually said.
Between 9 and 12 April a number of Facebook users shared statements alleged to have been made by the Vice-President of the EU Commission, Frans Timmermans. Among other things, he is claimed to have said that “Monocultural states need to be erased”, further adding, “The mass immigration of Muslim men to Europe is a way of achieving this”. Some users added a photo of the politician to their posts. The quote was also shared by Peter Schmalenbruch, leader of the far-right AfD group on the Neuwied town council. No information is provided about when or where the alleged statements were supposed to have been made. We have checked these claims.
The alleged quotes have been shared both with and without a photo of Timmermans (Screenshot: CORRECTIV)
Searching for the sources of the alleged quote
We searched for sections of the alleged quote on Google, and found them. As long ago as 4 May 2016 the Unser Mitteleuropa [English: Our Central Europe] website published an article with the headline, “EU Commission Vice-President: Erase monocultural states!” The article included further statements along the same lines that had allegedly been made by Timmermans, and stated: “The implication of his statements is clear: the existence of all European peoples is at stake!” However, the article did not include the alleged statements about either a “mass immigration of Muslim men to Europe” or a “super-culture”.
The article gave a single source: Timmermans had allegedly made the statements at a meeting of the EU Fundamental Rights Colloquium. Unser Mitteleuropa also included a link to a YouTube video in the article.
The Google search results for the alleged quote also include a short YouTube video with the title, “EU plans the destruction of European peoples and nations”. The screenshots included in the Facebook posts were all taken from this video. The video description also names the EU Fundamental Rights Colloquium as the source and claims the speech was made in 2015. The European Commission website includes a transcript of the speech given by Frans Timmermans at the opening session of the Colloquium held on 1 October 2015.
Transcript of the speech on the European Commission website (Screenshot: CORRECTIV)
Interpretation rather than actual quotes
The Unser Mitteleuropa article cites an unspecified “summary in English” on a linked YouTube page as its source for the statements allegedly made by Timmermans. The YouTube video is now only available in the linked archive version. It is not clear which summary is being referred to. Unser Mitteleuropa claims that Frans Timmermans called on members of the EU Parliament to do more to ensure the disappearance of monocultural states. Its webpage goes on to say that “the term used in the English summary is ‘erase’”, and then gives the literal German equivalent: “ausradieren”. However, the word “erase” does not occur in the transcript of the speech on the European Commission website.
At the heart of the issue is a single sentence from Timmerman’s speech: “That will bring us down as a society”. Unser Mitteleuropa translates this as “Das würde uns als Gesellschaft vernichten” [English: “That would destroy us as a society”] and then adds the headline, “Vizepräsident der EU-Kommission: monokulturelle Staaten ausradieren!” [English: “EU Commission Vice-President: Erase monocultural states!”] This has been taken out of context and is misleading. Timmerman’s exact words were, “The only question is, how do we deal with that diversity? And my answer to that is, by ensuring that our values determine how we deal with diversity and not giving up our values to refuse diversity. That will bring us down as a society.” He made no mention of “erasing” or “disappearing”.
Extract from the transcript of the speech on the European Commission website (Screenshot: CORRECTIV)
Nor did Timmermans make any of the other statements quoted in the Facebook posts. They were all made up.