… ou comment le népotisme (« cronyism ») affecte l’administration du PE, sa réputation et la fonction publique européenne (1)
POLITICO - 13/09/22
DRIVING THE DAY: PARLIAMENT CRONYISM
FAMILY BUSINESS: Alessandro Chiocchetti is the European Parliament’s new secretary-general, an influential job overseeing a staff of 8,000 and a budget of €2 billion. The Parliament’s leadership finalized his appointment Monday night in a closed-door meeting, and Chiocchetti will begin his new role in January.
Reactions: Even professional cynics and long-time civil servants were last night appalled by the backroom deal that propelled Chiocchetti to post of Parliament’s top — and best-paid — bureaucrat. Further details here, and Playbook breaks it down below …
Problematic beginnings: Behind the scenes, Chiocchetti was a controversial candidate from the start. As Parliament President Roberta Metsola’s chief of staff, he was seen as the beneficiary of nepotism. He also benefited from secret horse-trading that saw the Parliament create new jobs to divide between group leaders.
Keeping up appearances: While the outcome of the jobs race has been a done deal for ages, Parliament’s leadership gave Chiocchetti and his fellow shortlisted candidates a humiliating 10 minutes each to make their case on Monday. Chiocchetti’s three co-applicants were all director-generals in the Parliament and arguably more qualified than Metsola’s man, given they already manage large numbers of staff — unlike Chiocchetti. But in news that won’t shock any of our readers, Chiocchetti emerged victorious.
What a waste of time: Playbook hopes the other candidates didn’t bother spending too much time on their applications. They probably shouldn’t have trusted Metsola (who encouraged others to apply for the job and denied the existence of any backroom deal in favor of Chiocchetti), or group leaders such as Renew’s Stéphane Séjourné, who in remarks to Playbook insisted that any deal between political groups to carve up jobs was not tied to a specific name, yet whose group ended up backing Chiocchetti regardless.
Surprise, surprise: The Parliament’s Bureau (which is made up of Metsola, her 14 deputies and five additional members known as quaestors) voted as expected — in favor of Metsola’s own chief of staff.
Well, not exactly as expected, Playbook hears. Leaders of the Greens and Socialists & Democrats (S&D) agreed beforehand to abstain from the vote and called for a more open selection process. Yet two S&D MEPs (Italy’s Pina Picierno and Greece’s Eva Kaili) broke ranks and backed Chiocchetti. Meanwhile, Green Heidi Hautala voted against the deal.
DG !@$*: To many critics — some of whom did not mince their words — Chiocchetti’s ascension confirmed their warnings that the decision was pre-baked from the start. “Lolek has just been appointed to head the new DG SHIT and Bolek the new DG FUCK. Who is supposed to take this place seriously anymore?” asked one senior civil servant from Parliament’s management, referring to the Polish cartoon characters.
The Green’s Hautala — a Parliament vice president and a former Finnish minister who is respected across party divides — was barely more diplomatic. “The sordid saga to install Mr 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,” she warned.
How to win citizens’ trust in times of crisis: “The head of the Parliament’s administration, with a staff of over 8,000 and a budget of nearly two billion euros, was selected from a pool of four candidates after a 10 minute presentation. This is wholly inadequate and does not even begin to meet the requirements for recruitments to senior management positions at the Parliament,” Hautala continued in a statement. “It is a slap in the face of the other three candidates who all hold Director-General level positions at the Parliament.”
So who is Chiocchetti? In addition to serving as Metsola’s chief of staff, he was close to former Parliament President Antonio Tajani and former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi. Previously, he also served as an assistant to Marcello Dell’Utri, the Italian politician convicted and sentenced to prison for seven years for his ties to the Sicilian mafia. Chiocchetti has not been accused of corruption or mafia ties, but his links to Dell’Utri remained a source of consternation within Parliament.
And what are the other goodies in the package? The Left’s Sanna Lepola will get to lead a newly created Parliament unit, officially called the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Democracy Partnerships. For the centrist Renew group, Parliament will create a new “deputy secretary-general” post, according to a spokesperson for the group. The job will go to Anders Rasmussen, currently Renew’s secretary-general. Two people briefed on the decision said Rasmussen will also lead the Parliamentary Research Service, another directorate general. Christian Mangold, who in the past worked for the outgoing Parliament Secretary-General Klaus Welle, will become the new DG of the internal policies unit.
Fallout: An already weak Parliament — which has been largely absent on momentous EU decisions such as on the current energy crisis — is further weakened. Who will listen to MEPs the next time they call out countries or EU institutions over cronyism?
Jean-Guy Giraud. 13 - 09 - 2022