Martin Selmayr has always dreamed of being known beyond the Brussels bubble. His wish has now been granted, albeit in not quite the way he might have hoped. It has arrived in the form of a brilliantly executed coup that has handed this 47-year-old German bureaucrat near-total control of the EU machine.
The coup began at 9.39 a.m. on 21 February, when 1,000 journalists were sent an email summoning them to a 10.30 a.m. audience with Jean-Claude Juncker. The short notice suggested urgency — and for such a meeting to be happening at all was unusual in itself. Since becoming President of the European Commission, Juncker has held hardly any press conferences.
His news was the surprise promotion of Selmayr, his Chief of Staff, to the position of Secretary-General, in charge of the Commission’s 33,000 staff.