Note to Mr Selmayr – Parachuting


Brussels, 28 February 2018



Note to Mr. Martin SELMAYR  

Secretary general of the european commission



Subject :  Your successive positions against “parachuting” and your own “parachuting” on the post of Secretary General

The announcement of your appointment, as new Secretary-General, has prompted many reactions and questions from both colleagues and the outside world.

According to the information reported by the press, though you were not eligible for Deputy Secretary-General, you would have been, in the same day, appointed to this post following a selection procedure and then transferred to the post of Secretary-General following Mr. Italianer’s retirement on the same day again!

Should this information prove to be true, you would agree with us that this is an entirely new and quite surprising procedure, which requires explanations from Mr Oettinger — Commissioner in charge of Human Resources within our institution — whom we just asked.

Indeed, according to all observers, your appointment is the most spectacular case of “parachuting” of a cabinet member: for the first time in the history of our institution, a cabinet member becomes Secretary-General without ever having been responsible for a directorate-general or any other department. Moreover, this appointment as Secretary-General was made without any publication of the post.

In these circumstances, the ironic and sarcastic reactions of colleagues suggesting that we should not take seriously your commitments and your successive positions against “parachuting” would actually be founded!

Your statements against the hateful practice of “parachuting”

It must be remembered that, in January 2017, together with Mr Italianer, you stated that:

“Shall not be allowed”:

– “the appointment of Cabinet members to management positions in the Directorate-General operating under their portfolio and placed under their direct supervision.”

In support to these same instructions you stated that:

“These practices are demotivating for the rest of the staff who doesn’t get promoted as fast as the Cabinet members.”

And, always with Mr. Italianer, you have said that you intended to ensure the strict respect of these so well inspired instructions.

You will agree with us that, in accordance with your instructions, which we had supported with the greatest conviction — being obviously the only ones to have taken you seriously (please read our notes to you dated 6/2, 22/3, 16/5 and 2/6/2017) — we had the right to expect that you would never have tolerated the double appointment, in “flash sequence”, of a same cabinet member to the envied positions of Deputy Secretary General and Secretary General.

It is true that, subsequently, by your new declarations of October 2017, you had already seemed to drastically wish to reduce the scope of your initial declarations, thereby depriving them of any useful effect.

Only a few weeks ago, on 9 January 2018, we asked you to reconsider these “derogations” so that we could respond to the many questions raised at the time by staff members who had become both worried and suspicious.

We were therefore waiting for a clear answer from you: this answer seems to have been buried with your appointment.

In view of the above, please kindly let us submit to your attention, in your quality of Secretary General of the Commission, the following questions:

1. How to reconcile your exemplary declarations as Head of the cabinet of the President of the Commission, aimed at putting (finally) an end to the unjustifiable and deleterious practice of “parachuting”, with your own “parachuting” to the post of Deputy Secretary General and then Secretary General of our institution?

2. In your new role as Secretary-General, starting in a few hours, could you please let us know, once and for all, the instructions you intend to enforce regarding “parachuting”?

Having a clear answer from you has become all the more urgent that “parachuting” has already been announced in several services.

Above all, we cannot forget that, as it was the case with the end of the mandate of the Barroso Commission, the administration (still faithful to its mission as a single linchpin), which you are now responsible of in fine, would apparently already be preparing new carefully designed appointment procedures …

In this regard, we wish to confirm that our actions never aimed at denying the merits of our colleagues in the cabinets, but only at defending the credibility of our institution and its appointment procedures, as well as taking into account the devastating effects of these practices on the motivation of the rest of the staff, effects that you have so well recalled in your successive declarations.

In the framework of the open and frank dialogue that we wish to establish with the new Secretary General of the Commission, and in accordance with the well-known practice of many of your predecessors, we would like to propose a meeting with the Staff Representation in order to address, among other things, all the aspects mentioned above, but also to allow you to present the priorities and the orientations in the accomplishment of your new functions.

Cristiano Sebastiani,








Mr J-C Juncker, President

Mr G. Oettinger, Commissioner in charge of Budget and Human Resources

Ladies and Gentlemen College Members

Ms I. Souka, DG DGHR

Messrs. C. Roques, L. Duluc DG HR

Commission staff



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