European Commission dismisses Parliament’s resolution on coup-like appointment of Secretary-General
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European Commission dismisses Parliament’s resolution on coup-like appointment of Secretary-General

In its vote on Wednesday, by a show of hands, the European Parliament supported a resolution drafted by its Budget Control Committee on the appointment of the Commission’s new secretary-general. The Parliament heavily criticised the procedure used in the appointment of Martin Selmayr, the former head of cabinet of European Commission President Juncker, to the post. Gunther Oettinger, the Commissioner in charge of budget and human resources, who had been scrutinized by the parliamentary committee about the appointment, responded with a statement where he repeated his claim that all rules had been followed both in spirit and to the letter.

The Parliament very much doubts that the rules were followed in spirit when Selmayr was appointed in a procedure described as a “reassignment without publication of the post”. No other official could apply for the post. The college of commissioners were taken by surprise.

In what could be considered as a vote of confidence in the Commission, the Parliament underlined the difference with previous appointments of secretary-generals, who contrary to Selmayr had vast management experience.

The parliament does not mince words and describes the appointment “as a coup-like action which stretched and possibly even overstretched the limits of the law”.

In calling on all institutions of the European Union to put an end to the practice of “parachuting” people into positions, “which runs the risk of damaging procedures and thus the credibility of the EU”, the parliament apperently also considers Selmayr’s appointment as a kind of “parachuting”.

The main conclusion concerns what should be done about the appointment and has already been subject to different interpretations by media and MEPs.

Under “required action”, the Parliament writes ambiguously that it is aware that the revocation of a favourable administrative act is generally not possible due to legal constraints, “but nevertheless asks the Commission to reassess the procedure of appointment of the new Secretary-General”.

It also calls on the Commission “to conduct open and transparent application procedures in the future.”

In his statement, Oettinger writes that the Commission is willing to discuss and reassess “how the application of the current rules and procedures can be improved in the future” but chooses to disregard the Parliament’s criticism of the appointment of Selmayr “since all EU Institutions are autonomous in matters related to their organisation and personnel policy”.

“The Commission decision to appoint its new Secretary-General cannot be revoked and we will not do so, as we respect the Staff Regulations,” he writes.

The Brussels Times