MEPs' reactions to the promotion of a close associate of Juncker

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Many members of the European Parliament on Monday expressed outrage at the apparently sudden and opaque appointment of Martin Selmeyer, the former head of the office of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, to the top bureaucratic post. The case, dubbed "Selmaiergate", has dealt a blow to the credibility of the EU as a whole.

Selmeyer, who has been head of the European Commission's office since 2014, was appointed to the post of Secretary-General of the Commission last month, in a process that many have been reluctant to call a "coup".

"Is there a better way to throw water into the mill of Eurosceptics and perpetuate the myth that things are done behind closed doors?" both Juncker and Selmeier.

"Europe does not belong to the civil servants, but to the citizens of Europe - the former are there to serve the latter, not to benefit themselves or to advance their own interests," she added. "Honestly, we shot ourselves in the leg," he said.

Selmeyer had applied in January for a post of deputy secretary-general, as did another candidate, who later withdrew. He completed the evaluation process and was interviewed by the European Commissioner for Human Resources, Guenter Oettinger.

Minutes after the appointment was approved, Juncker announced that then-Secretary-General Alexander Italianianer, 62, had decided to step down and asked the commissioners to approve the appointment of the 47-year-old Selmeyer directly to the top official. .

During the EP dialogue, Ettinger assured that the European Commission did "everything as planned".

"It is a perfectly correct appointment, based on the regulations," he insisted.

According to EU staff regulations, the president of the European Commission has the right to make appointments to top posts, Ettinger said, adding: "We feel that Martin Selmeyer is 100% suitable for the post he has been appointed to." He called on MEPs to give Selmeyer a chance and judge him on the results of his work. "We should not turn Mr. Selmeyer into some kind of monster," because "he is not," he added.

Sophia ind Feld, of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, slammed Ettinger, accusing him of treating MEPs as "stupid".

"I honestly have no words in front of the spectacle of 28 powerful politicians who have been elected for the political leadership of this continent, but they are being dragged by a civil servant," the Dutch MEP said. "If the commissioners are so easily intimidated by a public official, if they act like helpless children when they have to make an unexpected decision for the staff, how can we expect them to stand up and defend European interests in front of the (US president, "Donald Trump, for example, in the event of a trade war?" He demanded.

 Ede Feld called on the Commission to correct this "serious mistake" and stressed that the uproar "destroys the whole credibility of the European Commission as a defender of the integrity and transparency of public administration".

MEP Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit campaign, said the process revealed how things really are in the EU. He exposed "nepotism, opaque governance and the misuse of public funds. "Thank God the UK is leaving!" He triumphed.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Dutch MEP Dennis de Jong (European Union Left-North Green Left) said that "everything stinks in this appointment" and that "everything was done behind closed doors". De Jong said he felt "back to the time of Commissioner (Luxembourg's Jacques) Santer", who resigned in 1999 following allegations of fraud.

"If the Juncker Commission does not pay attention, it will have the same fate," Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, was quoted as saying.

Many MEPs blamed Juncker for not appearing to explain the case.

The European Parliament is expected to conduct an in-depth inquiry into the appointment.

 Selmeyer, a lawyer, joined the Commission as a representative in 2004 and quickly rose through the ranks before becoming director of Juncker's office a decade later. Few doubt that the German, who is considered highly intelligent, politically perceptive and hard-working, will do well in his duties. But Selmeyer is a divisive figure in Brussels, especially because of some provocative messages he has occasionally posted on Twitter. For many, he is the architect of Juncker's top-down management model.

His appointment has also angered those who believe that Germany, the EU's largest and most powerful member state, has begun to gain disproportionately much power in Brussels. At the European Parliament, at the European External Action Service, at the European Stability Mechanism and at the European Investment Bank, the leaders are all Germans.

Selmeyer, if his appointment is not canceled, will remain in office for a long time after the end of Juncker's term. The president of the European Commission will leave in 2019, as he has made it clear that he will not seek a second term.

European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly of Ireland said on Twitter that she had received two complaints about the promotion of Martin Selmeyer and was "analyzing them". 

 

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