MEPs intensify scrutiny on Martin Selmayr appointment

Written by Martin Banks on 7 March 2018 in News

New European Commission secretary general comes under fresh attack from MEPs.

Martin Selmayr | Photo credit: European Commission audiovisual

The European Commission’s new secretary general Martin Selmayr, has come under fresh attack from MEPs.

It comes amid media reports earlier this week that, Selmayr, who now occupies the most senior civil service post in the Commission, had suggested tripling the so called “transition allowance” payable to commissioners after they leave office.

Under the reported plans, it is believed that officials could receive a maximum of €13,500 per month for up to five years, as well as an office in the Commission, an official car with a driver and two assistants.


According to the reports in French daily Libération, the allowance would compensate former commissioners for not drawing payment from outside interests linked to their former dossiers.

But some MEPs say the move could amount to a direct conflict of interest.

On Tuesday, Belgian Greens MEP Bart Staes told this website: "It is scandalous that former commissioners could continue to receive all the trappings of a top job while doing nothing”.

“One would have to question the motivations of any commissioner who could only be prevented from making the switch to becoming corporate lobbyist in exchange for five years' worth of pay and benefits.

"Martin Selmayr's appointment is rightly under scrutiny. If the new Secretary General continues down this path, he can only expect the furore to intensify."

"Martin Selmayr's appointment is rightly under scrutiny. If the new Secretary General continues down this path, he can only expect the furore to intensify" Bart Staes MEP

Staes, who sits on the European Parliament’s influential Budgetary Control committee, added, “The case of Martin Selmayr is the latest in a series of inconsistencies in the allocation of posts, lobby meetings and financial contributions within the European Commission”.

“In recent weeks, Climate Action & Energy commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete has yet again become embroiled in controversy, this time for drawing money from the MEP voluntary pension fund at the same time as his Commissioner salary.”

"With the Commission showing so little regard for transparency and conflicts of interests, we cannot in good faith discharge their budget until they introduce the necessary ethics reforms.”

Green group MEPs have called on Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to “satisfactory explain if the normal procedures have been followed” with the appointment of Selmayr as Secretary General.

Further comment came from another Greens MEP, German deputy Sven Giegold, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions, who said, "The appointment of Selmayr must be examined by Parliament.”

UK Tory MEP Amjad Bashir said, “The appointment means he will remain on the Commission executive after the 2019 European election and continue as a dominant figure in Brussels regardless of who becomes the next Commission president.”

Selymayr, who was previously Juncker’s chief of staff, was not immediately available for comment.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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