Fact Check: Former EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans Did Not Compare Romania To Third World Countries

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Former EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans Did Not Compare Romania To Third World Countries Satire

Did the former European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans claim that Romania was a Third World country because its corrupt and "stupid" political leaders caused its citizens to struggle in severe poverty? No, that's not true: The quote attributed to the Dutch politician was published in 2018 by a satire website and there is no evidence Timmermans made such a statement.

The claim appeared most recently in a video (archived here), posted by TikTok user @bobbydtiktok on January 4, 2024. In the video, the user asks his audience to pay attention to what Frans Timmermans is saying to the Romanian citizens. He then shows an image with a quote attributed to Timmermans and goes on to read that quote. In comments translated from Romanian into English by Lead Stories staff, he says:

Romania's problem is a typical one for Third World countries, that is, for those countries in Africa and Asia that, although full of natural resources, are struggling with the most severe poverty because of the stupidity and thievery that are rampant in those countries. Although you seemed to be on the right track, in the last year you have regressed enormously because of the poor quality of human resources that has reached the top of the country. This human resource is of such a pitiful quality that its representatives, on top of being thieves, are so stupid that they imagine they can fool everyone, although they're not even able to communicate in their mother tongue.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

TikTok screenshot

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Jan 9 07:43:56 2024 UTC)

The TikTok user argues that "this guy" is calling Romania's people and leaders "stupid," while the EU has "destroyed Romania" and has been continuously imposing things on the country, including political leaders, for the last 30 years.

The excerpt in the post is part of a longer statement that first appeared in a 2018 article (archived here) published by the Romanian website PonturiFierbinti.com. The satirical website, whose URL title translates as "HotTips.com," uses the motto "Our articles are truer than their news." It provides this further description at the bottom of the page: "Funny jokes and authentic Romanian humor."

Searches conducted in Google News' index of reliable sources of information, using the keywords "Frans Timmermans Romania third world country" in the English version (archived here), "Frans Timmermans Roemenië derdewereldland" for Dutch (archived here) and "Frans Timmermans Romania Lumea a Treia" for Romanian (archived here), showed no relevant results.

In 2019, the Romanian EU-focused news platform EuroPunkt said in an article (archived here) that the press office of the European Commission Representation in Romania confirmed that Timmermans' so-called statement was fake news.

Timmermans served as First Vice-President of the EU Commission starting in 2018, according to its official website, when he took on the role of Commission's Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal in 2019 and resigned in 2023 to return to Dutch politics.

  Lead Stories Staff

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.

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Lead Stories is a U.S. based fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
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