Two conclusions from yesterday’s European Parliament plenary concerning the recent appointment of Martin Selmayr as the new Secretary General of the European Commission. (1) Nobody questions Selmayr’s capabilities to do the job; (2) the procedure of the appointment was wrong.
The first conclusion is correct, the second is meaningless. If the Parliament wishes to overthrow the Juncker Commission on political grounds it is fine. This is the way democracies functions. However, to dismiss the Commission because of potentially procedural matters, where personal feelings of likes and dislikes are involved, is not politics. However, the Parliament will discuss the matter in April. If…
I know that my Editor will certainly won’t like being reminded of what one of his possible ancestors, Pericles, once said. Though, I believe it is the case.
“We can see Gods, we can see Daemons, but we do not see our nose, dear Athenians.” Indeed, none of the 751 Members of the European Parliament is able to see that the appointment of Marin Selmayr was political.
As for the wrong procedure, this is not an issue as the President has the right to appoint his own secretary general, as well as his spokesperson. At least.
Both positions are political, and frankly speaking, what procedure should the President follow if in the next month he decides to change his spokesperson? He will do it without asking anybody. Do not think for a minute that the position of the Spokesperson is any more political than that of the Secretary-General.
As to the essence behind all this nonsense noise about a political appointment, in my view, the matter relates to Brexit and the firm position of the big Member States to proceed regardless of a possible British reconsideration on the matter.
With Selmayr in the Secretariat for the coming years, it is certain that no matter who will be president after Juncker, or even before, Brexit will proceed as scheduled.
Brexit is a big issue, but it is political. Britain has blocked the European Union to have its own common foreign and defence policy for its own reasons and is good for Europe to leave. Britain is now out, and if the Brits have changed their mind, they first have to get out as scheduled and then re-apply. A fast-track procedure can be agreed upon to get Britain back in with a new agreement, free of colonial terms, and reached even before Serbia.
To dismiss the Juncker Commission now, it will be catastrophic for Europe. To bring the matter before the Parliament for a vote of confidence for the Commission will be high risk, as the vote is secret, and a decision will not be made using only political criteria.
Selmayr does not have many friends if any, and this is true in particular among EPP parliamentarians. The road to the top is a lonely path and once you are there you realize you do not have friends anymore – except for one or two who are unrelated to what you are doing and who have been with you since school.
By appointing Martin Selmayr as Secretary-General, Jean-Claude Juncker made a political decision, whether we like it or not. It was a bold political decision and we must be content with it because it is high time for the European Union to become political.