European Commission favouritism scandal

This video from Brussels, Belgium says about itself:

Juncker/Selmayr: Questions keep coming about Martin Selmayr’s promotion

5 March 2018

A new week, a new list of questions about the promotion of Martin Selmayr during this afternoon’s daily press conference of the European Commission.

Libération journalist Jean Quatremer has revealed that the European Commission’s new secretary-general, Martin Selmayr, is finalizing a plan that would in some cases triple the “transition allowance” paid to departing European Commissioners.

Ex-commissioners would receive up to €13,500 per month for up to five years, a Commission office (to which previously only former presidents were entitled), an official car with a driver and two assistants. The allowance is meant to compensate former commissioners for not taking money from outside interests related to their past portfolios.

Translated from Arjan Noorlander, European Union correspondent of Dutch NOS TV:

Many questions after shadowy appointment of EU official, but no answers

Today, 16:58

Adapted at 17:47

Every European commissioner will receive for five years an expensive redundancy pay scheme, an office in Brussels, a car with a driver and two assistants. That is the promise of the new secretary-general of the European Commission Martin Selmayr, reports the French newspaper Libération.

Selmayr has made this promise according to the newspaper to ensure his appointment. As Secretary General he is now the highest official within the European Commission, the day-to-day administration of the European Union. He is in charge of 30,000 employees and is only accountable to chairman Jean-Claude Juncker.

Suspicion of favouritism

But why precisely 47-year-old Selmayr got this position is not clear to journalists in Brussels. The whole procedure leads to frowning of eyebrows. The fuss about Selmayr’s appointment has been going on for weeks and flared up again today in the European press room in Brussels. Journalists suspect that there is nepotism. The European information officials are tired of the questions and insulted journalists out of frustration.

Former lawyer Selmayr has held various roles within the European Commission since 2004. The German is known as a confidant of Juncker, who he supported in his campaign to become president of the European Commission in 2014. Selmayr has a lot of power as the right hand of Juncker, but is also controversial. …

The presidency of Juncker will end within a year and so Selmayr seemed ready to apply for the position of deputy secretary general, the second highest civil service job within the Commission. And after a remarkable sequence of events, he even ended up in a higher spot.

Flash promotion, never seen before

The way in which he has obtained this job raises many questions in Brussels. First, about the application procedure for the position of deputy, the job Selmayr initially applied for.

Such a procedure normally takes months at the European Commission and involves many official steps such as assessments and discussions. But for Selmayr that procedure was completed in a few weeks. It had been known for some time that he had an opposing candidate, Clara Martinez, but the committee has also confirmed that she withdrew shortly after the vacancy closed. Was she merely a kind of ghost candidate to legitimize Selmayr’s procedure? There are no answers to questions about it.

The appointment of Selmayr as a deputy was officially confirmed on 21 February in the College, the weekly meeting of the European Commission. That formal step is necessary. It was striking that immediately afterwards the then secretary-general, the Dutchman Alexander Italianer, unexpectedly announced his departure. The 61-year-old went to early retirement with effect from March, freeing his position.

A few minutes later, his deputy, Selmayr, was promoted to the new secretary general, without anything that looked like an application procedure. A flash promotion that raises many questions. Again radio silence. Selmayr has not written anything on Twitter since his appointment.

The unrest about the state of affairs was even more fueled today by the revelations of French journalist Jean Quatremer from Libération. He wrote about the generous promises the German made to the European Commissioners who approved his appointment.

When they will leave next year, they will have a big redundancy pay scheme, an office in Brussels, a car with a driver and two assistants at their disposal. Did he [Selmayr] want to ensure his job in this way? Again the Commission refuses to answer questions.

Many questions, much frustration

Every day, the press officials of the European Commission have a press conference in Brussels. In the past week, the meetings have become an agony for the spokespersons. Every day they are bombarded for an hour with critical questions from journalists from all over Europe.

The information officers do not want and are not allowed to give many answers. Today, chief information officer Margaritis Schinas could no longer suppress his frustration. He attacked journalists who asked. The experienced [Dutch daily] NRC journalist Stephane Alonso also got a sneer. He would not for get any answers because, according to Schinas, he was only in Brussels for a short time and understood nothing about the EU.

In all his frustration, the press officer seemed to forget that Alonso had been working in the Belgian capital for four years.

Among politicians in [Dutch government city] The Hague, the issue does not go unnoticed either. D66 Member of Parliament Verhoeven has submitted parliamentary questions to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Such appointments are disastrous for the support for the European Union among people, says Verhoeven.

European Ombudsman criticizes Selmayr’s promotion: here.

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