Today, on March 1, the European Commission’s freshly appointed Secretary-General Martin Selmayr starts working in his new position.

On February 21, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, appointed his new Secretary-General replacing Alexander Italianer, who announced, the same morning, the retirement from his position by the end of the month. Selmayr’s rapid appointment has been criticized by the press, especially by the French daily newspaper Libération and by members of the European Parliament’s Committee on budgetary control (CONT), who called for EU investigation on the subject matter.

The criticism was based on three main points. First, until now, the 47-old German lawyer held the position of Head of Cabinet. Juncker was not supposed to appoint him directly for the position of Secretary-General because he did not have the required rank to hold the position.  That is why the president of the Commission made him first become Deputy Secretary-General and subsequently Secretary-General within one day.

Second, Juncker was informed weeks ago about Italianer’s decision and there was no open tender taking place in order to assign the post of Secretary-General. Another controversy occurred one year ago, when Selmayr and Italianer personally issued new rules in order to avoid opacity in the appointment procedure within the Commission, but Selmayr suddenly changed his mind and relativized his statement a few weeks later.

Finally, with Selmayr taking up his new post at the European Commission, three out of four Secretary-Generals in European institutions are from Germany. The influential position of Secretary-General at the European Parliament is held by Klaus Welle and at the European External Action Service (EEAS) by Helga Schmid, who are also both German. Juncker defended his position and declared that he had never seen Selmayr being more committed to a German issue than to issues regarding other member states.

Pia Dittmar


For further information: 

Website Libération:

Website Süddeutsche Zeitung:

Website Süddeutsche Zeitung:

Website Frankfurter Allgemeine:

Website EU observer:

Website Repubblica:

Website l’Echo: