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Commission Secretary-General leaves for less powerful post

Selmayr’s appointment a Secretary-General last year resulted in severe criticism by the European Parliament and the European Ombudsman. Credit: © European Union, 2019

The European Commission announced yesterday that its Secretary-General Martin Selmayr has resigned and been moved to a post as head of the representation office in Vienna, far from the powerful post he held in Brussels.

As head of the representation office, he will act as the Commission’s voice and monitor public opinion in the host country. Selmayr’s appointment as Secretary-General last year resulted in severe criticism by the European Parliament and the European Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly rejected the Commission’s response in justifying the appointment and identified instances of maladministration and lack of transparency in the appointment procedure.

“The maladministration arose due to the Commission not following the relevant rules correctly either in letter or in spirit,” she wrote in February. In his reply back then, Gunter Oettinger, the Commissioner in charge of Human Resources who played a crucial role in the recruitment process, defended the decision.

At yesterday’s press briefing (24 July) in Brussels, Oettinger said that Selmayr is not leaving the Commission by going to Austria and that he has made a valuable contribution to the Commission during the years. “The Juncker Commission would not have been conceivable without him,” he said.

Oettinger admitted that Selmayr’s replacement should not have the same nationality as the German Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen but declined to respond to questions from The Brussels Times as to whether next recruitment process will be more transparent and in line with the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

The College decided yesterday to put interim arrangements in place and appointed Selmayr’s deputy, Ilze Juhansone, an official from Latvia and its former ambassador, as acting secretary-general.

The Brussels Times

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