'Bad for transparency': EU Parliament’s ‘late-night’ deal on new top positions condemned

'Bad for transparency': EU Parliament’s ‘late-night’ deal on new top positions condemned
Headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels. Credit: Belga / Siska Gremmelprez

A formal complaint to the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has been launched by transparency groups over the European Parliament's decision to hurriedly rush through a raft of top job appointments on Monday evening.

Various top roles, including the post of Secretary-General and several Directors-General roles, were rushed through, according to the Good Lobby and Transparency International EU, who have now lodged a formal complaint.

This announcement follows previous criticism from the Good Lobby, an NGO committed to creating a more transparent, accountable, and responsible lobbying environment, regarding a "secret backroom deal" that it said had been agreed upon between a number of EP political groups to secure the appointment of the EPP’s Alessandro Chiocchetti.

Chiocchetti is the Head of EP President Roberta Metsola’s private office and will now become the new Secretary-General of the European Parliament, the top civil servant position in the Parliament, in January next year when the current Secretary-General Klaus Welle will quit the job.

In return for ensuring this decision would pass, other political groups allegedly were promised to be rewarded with appointments of their own, a statement from the Good Lobby read.

Transparency International EU spoke out against this proposed deal at the time, calling it a case of institutional corruption, adding that the process should be halted and restarted in a transparent and accountable manner.

Greater accountability needed

According to his critics, Chiocchetti had the least administrative experience of the four shortlisted candidates.

“Backroom deals such as the nomination of the manifestly least qualified candidate to lead the European Parliament’s administration urgently require greater public and political accountability of European political parties and leaders," Professor Alberto Alemanno, Founder of The Good Lobby wrote in a statement.

He added that the groups' complaint attempts to "fill up this gap."

The current complaint may not impact the appointments made, as the Ombudsman can in the best cases issue recommendations to solve the case, but these can be rejected. As a last resort, it can make a special report to the European Parliament, but it cannot block appointments.

Second strike

Questions regarding the morality of the appointment follow a similar incident dating back to 2018 when the Parliament itself attacked the European Commission over a similar fast-tracking of the appointment of Martin Selmayr, former Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief aide, for the post of the Commission Secretary-General.

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This prompted an inquiry by the European Ombudsman into the procedure at the time, who stated that the process was found by the European Ombudsman to have been deeply flawed.

However, Parliament officials have, according to reports from EURACTIV, dismissed any comparison with the Selmayr case, citing the fact that all senior positions in the Parliament have been open to officials at grade AD 15 or above for a decade, on the recommendation of the Ombudsman, adding that there was a shortlisting procedure.

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