30th Nov 2022

‘Rushed’ EP secretary-general pick sparks legal complaint

  • Alessandro Chiocchetti shaking hands with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in 2017 (Photo: European Parliament)
Listen to article

An anti-corruption NGO and a group of lawyers announced on Tuesday (13 September) they will launch a formal complaint with the EU Ombudsman over this week's appointment of a new head of the European Parliament's administration.

The parliament's administrative leadership body, called the Bureau, on Monday evening in a closed door meeting appointed the parliament's new secretary general and several director-generals.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and the 14 vice-presidents and five quaestors, all MEPs, appointed Alessandro Chiocchetti, Metsola's head of cabinet to one of the most powerful positions in the EU bubble.

Chiocchetti will oversee over 9,000 staff and a budget of €2bn, plus huge real estate portfolio. He will be able to influence both the parliament's agenda, and its personnel.

Transparency International EU and The Good Lobby, a non-profit civic start-up, said on Tuesday they will file a complaint with the EU ombudsman for alleged maladministration.

The appointment has been criticised for being rushed — Chiocchetti only takes up his new position in January — and for overlooking other candidates, all of them director-generals, whose experience in administration management has been seen as more substantial.

Metsola's Italian pick was backed as part of a deal among some political groups, including Metsola's centre-right European People's Party, the liberal Renew Europe and The Left.

The Socialists and Democrats, the second-largest group in the parliament, were divided in the Bureau, with two of their vice-presidents backing Chiocchetti.

The centrist Renew and The Left both got high-level positions within the administration.

"The sordid saga to install Chiocchetti as the new secretary-general of the European Parliament is bound to damage the parliament's reputation in the eyes of European citizens and representatives of other EU institutions," Green MEP Heidi Hautala, one of the vice-presidents, said Monday night in a statement.

She added that Chiocchetti was selected from a pool of four candidates after a 10-minute presentation of each candidate — with only Metsola asking questions.

Spanish MEP Iratxe Garcia, leader of the Socialists and Democrats said, she was "worried about the damage that this decision can cause to the image of the institution, the internal democracy and the credibility of this house towards the citizens."

However, French MEP Stéphane Séjourné, leader of the Renew group in the parliament defended the deal on Tuesday.

He said that previously the secretary general emerged from a deal between the two biggest parties, the EPP and the S&D, and that he was happy that now there is more pluralism in decision-making.

"I am sorry, but in the European parliament statute it says Bureau decides on secretary general, and the Bureau decided with a vote, with open candidates on who the secretary general will be," he told reporters in Strasbourg.

"We have ended the co-management between two groups, and we are very happy with that, we don't think it was healthy to manage this institutions with just two political groups involved," Séjourné said.

'Institutional corruption'

Transparency International has criticised the deal earlier, calling it a "case of institutional corruption", called for the process the halted and restarted in a transparent and accountable manner.

Michiel van Hulten, Transparency International EU's director, said the way this package was adopted without scrutiny is "unacceptable".

"EU citizens expect the EU institutions to be transparent and accountable, instead of stitching up sordid backroom deals to further the personal and political agendas of senior officials, MEPs and party groups," he said.

"It is deeply regrettable that your institution, which had been so outspoken in its criticism of another institution's outrageous abuse of procedure, now seeks to do the same thing with the backdoor appointment of your next secretary-general," the anti-corruption NGO told in a letter to Metsola last week.

The European Parliament previously criticised the EU Commission for its fast-track appointment of former commission president's head of cabinet, Martin Selmayr to the secretary general position.

Once the complaint is received, the ombudsman's office will analyse the substance and if the issue can be investigated by ombudsman, which could take days or weeks, depending on the complexity.

Metsola becomes youngest EU Parliament president

Metsola's win was actually secured on Monday - after a deal was struck by the largest three political parties, the centre-right European People's Party, the Socialist and Democrats and the liberal Renew Europe.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

French official accused of conflict over EU fish lobby job

A senior French official is being accused of conflicts of interest for spearheading a leading role in Europeche, a fishing-industry lobby group based in Brussels. The hire comes as the EU Commission threatens a lawsuit against France over fishing.


EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths

The EU Commission has watered-down a broad political initiative —but now governments of member states hold the key to what the EU should do. Some member states and regions have adopted asbestos strategies of some kind, from Poland to Flanders.

Swedish EU presidency: 'Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine'

Ukraine and a looming economic recession is set to dominate the upcoming Swedish EU presidency, which takes over at the start of next year. Sweden's ambassador to the EU, Lars Danielsson, laid out some of its priorities.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  2. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  3. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?
  4. EU carbon-removal scheme dubbed 'smokescreen for inaction'
  5. EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths
  6. Post-COP27 optimism — non-Western voices are growing
  7. Legal scholars: Prosecuting Putin 'legally problematic'
  8. A missed opportunity in Kazakhstan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us