After the European Parliament voted on a Resolution regarding the recent appointment of Martin Selmayr to the position of Secretary-General of the European Commission, Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner in charge of Budget & Human Resources, responded with a statement that essentially ends the standoff with the Parliament.
Oettinger’s argument is simple: All the rules were followed, both in spirit and substance. If the European Parliament doesn’t like the rules – then the rules themselves can be reviewed. Most importantly – such appointments should not be part of negotiations between member states and political parties.
“When appointing its new Secretary-General, the Commission has followed all the rules both in spirit and to the letter, as laid down in the Staff Regulations that apply to all institutions. The Commission did not deviate from its internal legal framework and Rules of Procedure, nor did it go against the existing practice followed over many years. The previous three Secretaries-General were appointed on the basis of precisely the same procedure. Equally, the suitability and credentials of the official appointed to the post of Secretary General are beyond any doubt. Based on the proposal from the President, the College of Commissioners took this decision unanimously on 21st February,” Oettinger stated.
Speaking to the independence of the Institutions, Oettinger highlighted that, “The Commission welcomes that the Resolution recognises that – under the Treaties – all EU Institutions are autonomous in matters related to their organisation and personnel policy. Moreover, the Resolution rightly states that the Commission decision to appoint its new Secretary-General cannot be revoked and we will not do so, as we respect the Staff Regulations.”
On the possible future reform of the staff regulation, Oettinger said the Commission stands ready to reasses together with Parliament and the other Institutions, how the application of the current rules and procedures can be improved in the future. “To that effect, I have launched a proposal to organise an inter-institutional round table as soon as possible. These discussions should allow us to guarantee the excellence and independence of the EU civil service, working for the benefit and in the common interest of our citizens,” he stated.
Speaking after the vote, ECR MEP Jan Zahradil, “Ever since this announcement was made, the Commission has failed to realise the fundamental issue at play. This isn’t about making the rules fit to what you’ve already set out to achieve, which we all know was to appoint Selmayr; but instead about genuinely believing that you owe it to the electorate to be open, transparent and fair in how your daily work. We’re now waiting on the Commission to pull their heads out the sand, act upon our concerns, and put in place mechanisms so that this never happens again. This is all part of building a future where the public has confidence in the job that its institutions are doing.”
Most critically, Commissioner Oettinger snapped at the personal and political nature of the backlash towards the Selmayr appointment, saying that, “Senior management appointments should under no circumstances become the subject of negotiations between Member States and political parties. All EU Institutions have a shared responsibility to ensure this.”
The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats called the Selmayr appointment a “scandal” and “a disgrace for all EU institutions”. Inge Gräßle MEP for the Group of the European People’s Party, and Chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee, said that she regrets that the appointment of the new Secretary–General of the European Commission was conducted in a way that aroused disapproval in public opinion, but stressed that the committee did not find a legal basis for the Parliament to ask for his resignation.