The European Commission is guilty of double standards by appointing Martin Selmayr to the civil service’s top post, a Hungarian government spokesperson said Wednesday.
“In light of the recent developments in the household of the Commission, if I might say so, we see that preaching about the rule of law and following the guidelines or the rules is not authentic when it is coming from the Commission,” Zoltán Kovács said during a press briefing in Brussels.
Asked whether he was referring to the sudden elevation of Selmayr, Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of staff, to the role of secretary-general, head of the Commission’s 33,000-strong civil service, he said: “Double standards, that’s my comment on this.”
Selmayr’s appointment has resulted in a growing backlash, with the European Parliament to hold a debate on the subject on Monday. Even most European commissioners were told about the promotion only minutes before their meeting last week.
Kovács criticizing the Commission is not new, with Budapest and Brussels regularly at loggerheads over migration and the rule of law. He also had harsh words for a Commission report on Hungary published Wednesday as part of the European Semester Winter Package, which scrutinized the economies of 27 EU countries (the exception being Greece, which is subject to a bailout program).
The report on Hungary is a political statement issued just a few weeks ahead of Hungary’s April 8 election, Kovács said.
“Unfortunately it is very obviously a political report,” he said. The Commission “has basically made a political statement, a campaign statement,” he added, referring to parts of the report criticizing the country’s judicial system and its failure to integrate the Roma community.
“It’s a political report from a political body. It’s very unfortunate that for the past couple of years increasingly the Commission became a political body.” Creating a more political Commission was a stated aim of Juncker.
Now, Kovács said, it’s a Commission that doesn’t even follow its own rules: “The statements, the country specific reports, the recommendations are coming from a body which, again, is a political body which increasingly is not even following its own lines, so it’s going beyond its original confines.”