Martin Selmayr scandal threatens to engulf European Commission

BY Iain Martin | iainmartin1   /  6 March 2018

Sorry to break off for a moment from the British Brexit debate about how hopelessly rubbish and doomed Britain is as it tries to leave the EU, but there’s a full-blown scandal brewing in Brussels.

I touched on the curious case of Martin Selmayr in The Times last week and the week before. Selmayr – the Monster of the Berlaymont, as his friends call him, you should hear what his enemies say – is the Europhile fanatic German who was mysteriously parachuted in as head of the EU Civil Service. He had been Juncker’s feared chief of staff, until the coup (“Operation Night and Fog” a German Green MEP called it).

There are allegations rules were broken, for the selection of what is the most senior official post in the EU. The post was not advertised and Selmayr had a clear run. The Commission denies this, and says there were other contenders for the post (a Mr S. Claus, a Mr P. Rabbit, and a Mr H.C. Andersen, for example). The suspicious minutes of the key meetings are being pored over. Members of the European Parliament are demanding an inquiry.

In the UK, among ultra-remainers, the subject seems to be getting very little attention. Nothing to see here! Small administrative matter! Just a civil servant! Look, over here, more silliness from the ridiculous Brits on the Irish border.

Well, perhaps. But what kind of organisation indulges in this sort of stitch up at the behest of Juncker to set things up for his ghastly sidekick, Selmayr, to be the boss of thousands of officials, extending his pal’s power? An organisation worth leaving, that’s what.

The reporter who has made the running, breaking a series of revelations and allegations, is Jean Quatremer, EU correspondent of the French newspaper Libération.It’s getting worse by the day. Politico has a report of the insurrectionist press conference held yesterday in Brussels, in which the spokesman Schinas came under unprecedented pressure.

Politico reports:

“Quatremer led the charge on Monday as the midday briefing turned into a veritable uprising, with reporters demanding that Selmayr himself come to the podium to answer questions about how he got his new job, whether the vacant positions were properly advertised and if other procedures were followed according to EU regulations.

“These institutions don’t belong to you,” Quatremer snapped at Schinas in response to his assertion that all questions on the matter had already been asked and answered. “They belong to the European citizens, and it is our perfect right to ask you questions, to repeat the questions as often as we want, without you giving us lessons in morality,” Quatremer said before asking yet more questions.

This matters on a practical as well as an ethical level. The European Commission is in conflict with states such as Poland and Hungary over their breaches of EU rules. Why should they listen to the Commission now? They won’t.

I know this all runs contrary to the prevailing narrative in London, that a brilliantly organised, sophisticated and united EU makes the British negotiating team look characters from a lost episode of Fawlty Towers. But there you are.