Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, expressed disappointment in the outcome of the European Parliament’s reaction to the lightning-fast appointment of Martin Selmayr, former head of cabinet to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, as Commission Secretary-General.
Ms. Childers’ remarks came on foot of today’s vote in Parliament of a resolution criticising the manner and timing of his appointment.
Speaking from Strasbourg after the vote in Parliament, this afternoon, Ms. Childers said:
“This appointment bore the hallmarks of a bureaucratic coup, which Messrs. Juncker and Selmayr have proven adept at in the past.
“They have now exceeded themselves and turned it into an art form, with a double promotion, a lightning fast procedure on foot of the sudden retirement announcement from the outgoing top Commission civil servant, and only one competitor for the post, in the form of Mr. Selmayr’s deputy, who withdrew her candidacy after the procedure was well underway.
“Mr. Juncker appears to have press-ganged the whole college of commissioners into accepting him, and then told Parliament that, should it call for Mr. Selmayr’s resignation from his newfound post as top Commission civil servant, Mr. Juncker would resign himself.
“While I fully endorse Parliament’s express criticism of a procedure that was devised to respect the letter of the law in the strictest sense, while running roughshod over any notions of propriety and ethics in public administration, I wish I and like-minded colleagues had mustered a majority to call Mr. Juncker’s bluff.
“This is the kind of Brussels-based maneuvering that cheapens the European project, gives the EU institutions a bad name and provides easy fodder for tabloid headlines that end up with outcomes such as the Brexit vote.
“Naked political appointments of this kind undermine the spirit and legitimacy of the civil service and are a blow to the morale and career prospects of those who do their jobs day in, day out in our institutions without resorting to party political manoeuvring.
“In fairness to Mr. Selmayr, for all the legs up he has been given by Fine Gael’s Christian Democrat EPP group, he is a career civil servant.
“That’s more than can be said for a lot of political appointees that have been parachuted into the higher echelons of our civil service ranks in the European Parliament, on foot of suspiciously tailor-made competitions for people who often transit from political group staffs to the President’s cabinet.
“We need to clean up our act within our own house if we are to enjoy the legitimacy and moral authority that should accompany our role in bringing the Commission to account.
“I fear this is why we didn’t dare to go further as a Parliament on this occasion. As a fellow EPP colleague of Fine Gael’s candidly put it at a previous debate, they don’t want to probe the Commission too much, lest they start looking into our own family affairs over here.”