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30/08/2016

Top Commission official to manage Juncker’s campaign

Justice & Home Affairs

Top Commission official to manage Juncker’s campaign

Martin Selmayr [European Commission]

Martin Selmayr, the head of cabinet of EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding, has been appointed campaign manager for centre-right candidate Jean-Claude Juncker.

Starting today (1 April) Selmayr moves to the European People’s Party (EPP) headquarters in Brussels to lead the campaign of Juncker, the European People’s Party (EPP) candidate.

Selmayr has worked at the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the past. He also served as head of the Brussels office of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German think tank and public affairs organisation.

In 2004, Selmayr took on the position of spokesperson for information society and media at the European Commission – a portfolio held by Commissioner Reding at that time. He was promoted to head of cabinet in 2010, when Reding took on her new role as EU commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship.

He will be replaced as head of cabinet by Telmo Balthazar, a member of Reding’s cabinet, responsible for inter-institutional relations. Reding’s current deputy head of cabinet, Viviane Hoffmann, will also step down today (1 April) to become principal adviser in the communications department, and will be replaced by cabinet member Pauline Rouch.

Officially, Martin Selmayr is set to return to the cabinet after the campaign, in June. But the German official could very well follow Juncker in his next role, an insider told EurActiv: “They share the same ideas, the same vision for Europe. They get along extremely well on a personal level, so there is a good chance that [their partnership] continues.”

Jean-Claude Juncker won the EPP’s primary vote at their congress in Dublin (7 March) and is now running to become the next European Commission president.

The next president of the EU executive has to be nominated by the member states and elected by a majority in the European Parliament. Parties have put forward their top candidates for the job, explaining this offers voters a choice on who should take this powerful role in the European Union.

If the centre-right political family gets the most seats in the next European Parliament, Juncker could very well get the top spot. Many centre-right EU leaders have openly endorsed his candidacy, including German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Juncker also needs the nomination of his national government, though. The former Luxembourgish prime minister lost the elections – and the prime ministership – to Xavier Bettel: a liberal who leads a centre-left coalition government.

In his campaign, Juncker has slammed the socialists at several occasions, for what he has called “irresponsible” governing.

“We had a neoliberal Europe when the socialists were in the majority in Europe,” he said in an interview with the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Solidarity is not the monopoly of the socialists.”

Background

Next May’s European elections are the first to be held under the Lisbon Treaty, which grants the European Parliament the power to vote on the president of the EU executive, the European Commission.

Up until December 2009, when the Lisbon Treaty came into force, EU leaders in the European Council selected the Commission president behind closed doors and in a package deal with other EU top jobs.

According to Article 17.7 of the TEU, EU leaders now have to “take into account” the results of the EU elections, and nominate their candidate “after appropriate consultations" with the newly elected parliament.

Parties have taken things into own hands by nominating their own candidates for the top spot. These ‘single candidates’ will lead a pan-European campaign and, after the elections in May, the largest political force in the new European Parliament is presumed to put their nominee forward to succeed the current commission president, José Manuel Barroso.

>> Full background in our LinksDossier on top jobs.

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