European Parliament to hold plenary debate on controversial appointment of new Secretary General of the European Commission

Mar 07, 2018


Two weeks ago, in an unprecedented move, the European Commission announced that their Secretary General, Alexander Italianer had retired with immediate effect and that Martin Selmayr, the current Chef de Cabinet of Commission President Jean Claude Juncker would replace him.

In the days following the announcement information began to emerge that the process for the recruitment was kept largely secret from both European Commissioners and Civil Servants. Selmayr took part in a process to recruit a deputy secretary general, which was approved during a meeting of commissioners, who were then told the current secretary general was retiring. This saw Selmayr immediately elevated to that post and effectively earning a double promotion within five minutes.

While the Commission remain adamant that no rules have been broken from the outside there is strong feeling that they have not acted within the spirit of those rules. Further allegations have since surfaced that the minutes of the Commission meeting on 21st February 2017 were falsified to include a discussion about the merits of non-existent multiple candidates for the role, and later altered.

ECR Czech MEP Jan Zahradil submitted on behalf of the ECR Group an oral question to the Commission, calling on them to clarify a number of points. We now fully expect them to elaborate further on their processes and the timing of a number of key events. The Commission are accountable to MEPs and Member States and should be afforded the opportunity to explain themselves before we decide how best to move forwards.

We are extremely concerned that the Commission’s handling of the affair has undermined trust in their integrity and ability to be an objective and impartial institution. Reports that minutes of meetings were deliberately falsified for cover, and then later amended are deeply troubling and the Commission should clarify the facts on this immediately.

Furthermore, we are increasingly disappointed at what appears to be contempt shown by the Commission towards any journalist that has asked questions – their role is to hold them to account for their actions in the same way that it is the parliament’s. The more time has gone the more it has become evident that the Commission either do not see that there was a problem with their process or they simply do not want to see it and we now expect them to start taking this matter very seriously.