EU Parliament Slams EU Commission for ‘Coup-Like’ Cronyism

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Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have accused the Commission of “coup-like action” and rule-bending amid cronyism concerns around President Jean-Claude Juncker.

German lawyer Martin Selmayr (pictured, right), a protégée of Mr. Juncker (left) and his long-serving chief-of-staff, surprised Brussels earlier this month after being promoted twice in one day to become one of the most powerful men in the EU.

He was first made the deputy secretary-general of the European Commission, and then moved into the top job after his predecessor, Alexander Italianer, resigned just minutes later, making him the Commission’s most senior civil servant presiding over 32,000 staff.

Now, in abnormally strong language, MEPs have published a draft resolution Wednesday, reading:

“The two-steps nomination of the secretary general constitutes a coup-like action which stretched and possibly even overstretched the limits of the law.”

The shady appointment “runs against the spirit of the staff regulations” and the vacancy had not been “publish[ed]”, with commissioners left in the dark, they said.

It later emerged that both Mr. Juncker and Mr. Selmayr had known since 2015 that Mr. Alexander Italianer would resign, but potential rivals for the jobs and key people in the Commission did not, giving them no chance to discuss the change.

The resolution says the “procedure seems to have taken all other members of the college by surprise and avoided a debate among the commissioners”.

Adding: “The parliament… is disappointed by the fact that not a single commissioner seems to have questioned this surprise appointment, asked for a postponement of this decision or requested discussion.”

Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch MEP and spokesman for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, was even more direct, saying:

“The Selmayr case is a piece of theatre carefully written by [Commission President] Juncker and Selmayr, a political-administrative coup… The European Commission has lacked any kind of sensitivity in this case.”

Mr. Selmayr has experienced a meteoric rise to the top of the European Commission, finding himself in one of the top jobs in less than 14 years, which angered others in the institution speaking at a hearing earlier this week.

“The new secretary-general did not perform any management task in the commission services . . . in particular, he was not deputy secretary-general in function,” the resolution blasts.

Concluding: “The European Parliament notes that the result of this procedure constitutes a reputational risk not only for the European Commission but for all the EU institutions.”

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