Wednesday, March 22

The president of the European Parliament manages to place her chief of staff at the head of the 8,000 officials of the institution

The President of the European Parliament, Roberto Metsola, has managed to place her number two as Secretary General of the European Parliament. Alessandro Chiocchetti, from Forza Italia, former adviser to Silvio Berlusconi and Antonio Tajani –former president of the European Parliament and his men in Brussels–, he will be in charge of the most powerful post in the administration, with more than 8,000 officials under his charge. Among other merits of Chiocchetti is having been an assistant to Senator Marcello Dell’Utri, co-founder of Forza Italia, sentenced to 7 years in prison for his links with the Sicilian mafia.

Chiocchetti has won Jaume Duch, Director General of Communications and spokesman for the European Parliament –and the favorite of the Spanish Socialists– in the final vote; Leena Linnus –general director of Infrastructures–; and Agnieszka Walter-Drop, General Director of Logistics and Interpretation. Metsola’s victory came after an agreement by which popular, ultra-conservatives and liberals have voted in favor together, with two of the five socialist vice-presidents. Meanwhile, La Izquierda and three of the socialist vice presidents have abstained. Only the representative of the Greens, the Finnish Heidi Hautala, voted against.

The appointment comes two weeks before the Italian elections in which Forza Italia aspires to make far-right candidate Giorgia Meloni prime minister, and is opposed by Socialists and Greens.

Metsola has been maneuvering for months to crown his chief of staff. Klaus Welle (CDU), outgoing General Secretary, had been the demiurge of the house since 2009. Both he and his second then, Freddy Drexler, rose briefly to the fame of the bubble Brussels in 2011, when a worker of the institution sent an email to all the email accounts of the European Parliament, more than 8,000, addressed to the “secretary general and Freddy”.

The message, sent on August 1, 2011, alleged that promotions were being made in exchange for sexual favors and made harsh remarks at both Welle and Drexler.

The scandal was double in those days. First, because of the message, which reached all the electronic mailboxes in the Parliament’s domain. And, second, because IT services were responsible for deleting it from all inboxes overnight.

As a result of that, Drexler was relocated by Welle as head of legal services for a short period of time –2012-2013–, until he was later sent to the position of jurisconsult. From this position, he signed the report in May 2019 that denied the possibility that Carles Puigdemont could be an MEP, a position that he ended up occupying after the CJEU ruling in December of that year.

Welle, who has had the power to place and redeploy, promote and park staff for more than a decade, has also been responsible in all these years for the construction of a large building for the seat of the European Parliament in Luxembourg, where nothing is done parliamentary activity, at a cost of more than 400 million euros. Also, according to parliamentary sources, he planned to reform a building in Brussels, with a similar investment, apart from the fact that the sources also point to an agreement between the French Government and the presidency of the European Parliament to buy another building in Strasbourg.

Metsola became president of the European Parliament nine months ago after the agreement between popular, socialists and liberals who revalidated the 2019 one by which David Sassoli (PD/S&D), recently deceased, became president of the European Parliament. And after, also, the last withdrawal of the Polish ultra-conservative Kosma Złotowski (ECR, the Vox group, which confirms having voted for the EPP candidate), which guaranteed him a large majority of votes that, in addition, drew the following distribution of the 14 vice-presidencies with a progressive minority, which are the ones that have now appointed Chiocchetti: three for the EPP –which remains with the presidency–; five for the Social Democrats; three for Renew (Liberals, the Citizens group); one for ECR (the Vox group); one for the Greens and one for The Left (the UP group).

The pact, however, did not question the powerful general secretary in a context of electoral setbacks for the PP throughout Europe.

But now the context is even more intricate, when there are 13 days left for Italian elections that could mean –according to polls– the coronation of Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Italian extreme right, just 100 years after Benito Mussolini’s March on Rome. , thanks to his electoral alliance with the Lega of Matteo Salvini and the Forza Italia of Berlusconi, Tajani and Chiocchetti himself.

That is why the election was held this Monday, September 12, when Welle’s departure does not take place until the end of the year, because Metsola wanted to avoid the photo of propelling the person who makes Meloni Prime Minister of Italy. And for that he has obtained the support of his group, the EPP and that of the ultra-conservatives of ECR ​​(the VOX group), which for the first time has a seat on the European Parliament Board – bureau – thanks to the agreement with popular and liberal to make Metsola president of the European Parliament. But also of the Liberals, who last January won three vice-presidencies and who have been promised a newly created deputy general secretary.

The Socialists, for their part, have been divided. Three of the five representatives in the Table have voted abstention, in line with the group, while two have voted in favor, the Italian Pina Picierno and the Greek Eva Kaili.

Another leg of the vote was the representative of The Left, whose vice president at the Table, the Greek Dimitrios Papadimoulis (Syriza), abstained, after it was agreed to create a new general directorate, that of Parliamentary Associations for Democracy, for the that the general secretary of The Left, Sanna Lepola, seems very well placed.