Vulcan Insight

European Commission prepares for new Secretary-General

26 July 2019

Current Secretary-General of the European Commission and long-time confidante of President Jean Claude Juncker, Martin Selmayr, will leave Brussels at the end of July to take up a new role as European Commission representative to Austria.

As the European Commission’s most powerful civil servant, Selmayr has been a somewhat controversial figure over the years, joining in 2004 and rising through the ranks to become Juncker’s chief of staff in 2014. His fast track appointment in February of 2018 to the role of Secretary-General in the European Commission, was heavily criticized for its lack of transparency. Many also felt that Selmayr lacked the experience for such a role. The path to becoming Secretary-General of the European Commission would generally entail a stint as the head of a Commission department, a position which Selmayr had never held.

France would now like to take its turn in holding the powerful position, which will be available at the end of next week. Selmayr had suggested that Olivier Guersent, Director-General in DG FISMA, take the role, with many believing him to be a very suitable candidate for the role, considering his near thirty-year experience in the EU civil service. But, as the European Commission Presidency shows, the early favourite often fails to land the top job.