Mediamax Network Limited

EU ombudsman slams Juncker aide promotion

Brussels, Tuesday

The EU ombudsman on Tuesday savaged the rushed and murky procedure that saw Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of staff promoted to the body’s top administrative post.

Emily O’Reilly did not criticise Martin Selmayr personally, nor call for the process to appoint him secretary general of the European Commission to be re-opened.

But she warned that the members of Juncker’s commission had not followed their own rules “in letter nor in spirit” when it elevated him in February.

The commission, in a statement and later at a combative press conference, rejected the report’s conclusion that any EU rules had been broken.

“The commission created an artificial sense of urgency to fill the post of secretary-general in order to justify not publishing a vacancy notice,” the ombudsman’s office said.

“It also organised a deputy secretary-general selection procedure, not to fill that role, but rather to make Selmayr Secretary-General in a rapid two-step appointment.”

“All of this risked jeopardising the hard-won record of high EU administrative standards and consequently, the public trust,” the statement warned.

Before February, Selmayr was chief of staff to Juncker, the former Luxembourg premier now serving as Brussels’ most powerful EU official.

Eyebrows were raised when he was abruptly named secretary general—chief civil servant of the EU’s 30,000-strong executive—with no transparent hiring process.

In a scathing report, the ombudsman found the 28-strong College of Commissioners responsible for “four instances of maladministration” in Selmayr’s promotion.                           – AFP