The European Commission on Tuesday named a new deputy director-general in the migration and home affairs department — and, to the surprise of many, it’s a Brit.
Simon Mordue, a director in the enlargement department, will start his new job on December 1, but the choice of a British official for a senior EU job after the Brexit vote has caused anger, with Italy’s deputy foreign minister calling it “a scandal.”
“In his new role, Mr. Mordue will be in charge of key EU policies in the area of migration and home affairs and, notably, the European agenda for migration,” said a Commission memo on the appointment. He’s an experienced Eurocrat, having worked in the private offices of commissioners Günter Verheugen and Štefan Füle.
“Why do we keep on appointing Brits to key positions?” Mario Giro, deputy Italian foreign minister, told POLITICO during a donor conference for the Central African Republic last week. He was already aware that Mordue was in line for a promotion, remembering him as “the one that negotiated the [migration] deal with Turkey,” referring to the fact that Mordue, in his previous position at the enlargement department, was director for strategy and Turkey.
“We are strongly against it,” Giro said of his new appointment.
“And don’t tell me that he has a second, Irish passport. They cannot mock us on this. It’a scandal the appointment of a Brit at this moment,” he said.
Giro believes the EU is being too soft on the U.K., and advocates a much tougher reaction, starting with an end to promotions for Brits.
He is not the only Italian to voice frustration with London. His comments came days after Development Minister Carlo Calenda became involved in a spat with U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson after Johnson suggested Italy would support British access to the common market for fear of losing the ability to sell prosecco in the U.K.
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Calenda hit back that “perhaps we lose some exports of prosecco but you will lose exports of fish and chips, with the difference that we lose exports in a single country, and you lose exports in 27.”
Giro stressed that he wants a “hard Brexit. Either they are in or out. If they want to leave, goodbye.”
The Commission has denied that British officials are banned from applying for Commission top jobs after the Brexit vote. “Recruitments and promotions are based on merit,” said a Commission official.