EU watchdog slams Juncker cronyism

The EU Ombudsman has found that Jean-Claude Juncker had failed to follow protocol when elevating his closest aide to a top position. She further accused his fellow commissioners of being "evasive and combative."

EU Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly released a report on Tuesday criticizing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. O'Reilly found that Juncker was less than transparent in elevating his chief aide Martin Selmayr to run the European civil service, an organization of 30,000 people.

According to the report, by failing to follow the proper procedures, the EU executive risked undermining public trust in the institution.

In February, Juncker appointed Selmayr to fill the vacant position of deputy secretary-general of the European Commission, and then shortly after that promoted him once again to secretary-general.

The move was attacked as a blatant example of cronyism and for adding fuel to the fire of euroskepticism ahead of European elections in 2019.

Commissioners 'defensive, evasive, combative'

While her findings did not overrule Selmayr's appointment, it found four instances of maladministration and called upon the commission to review how it fills senior posts.

O'Reilly further criticized Juncker's 27 fellow commissioners for failing to challenge the appointment, and accused them of being "defensive, evasive and at times combative" in response to media questions about the outmoded procedures for filling vacancies.

"All of this risked jeopardizing the hard-won record of high EU administrative standards and consequently, the public trust," she said in a statement.

In response, a spokesman for Juncker said that the EU executive saw no conflict of interest in Selmayr's appointment.

es/msh (AFP, Reuters)

Date 04.09.2018