Published On: Thu, Apr 11th, 2024

Von der Leyen ‘increasingly isolated’ as EU chief dealt blow | World | News

Lawmakers at the European Parliament dealt a blow to the European Commission today as they voted overwhelmingly to overturn the appointment of Markus Pieper as the European Commission’s small business envoy.

The vote, which passed 382 to 144, comes amid accusations of political favouritism against Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The move to appoint Pieper, a member of Germany’s Christian Democrat Union and a colleague of von der Leyen, sparked allegations of cronyism and raised concerns about the transparency of the Commission’s decision-making process.

MEPs from various political groups, including the Greens, Socialists and Democrats, and centrist Renew, questioned whether principles of merit and balance were disregarded in Pieper’s selection.

Daniel Freund, a Green MEP, lamented the appointment, saying: “The episode is sad and shameful. I don’t know how we can explain it to voters.”

The European Parliament has now called for the recruitment process to be restarted in a transparent and open manner.

The contentious appointment has further deepened divisions within the European Parliament.

The Lega group criticised von der Leyen’s leadership.

In a note sent to, they said: “The so-called Ursula majority, which has already failed on repeated occasions in the vote test, is failing once again today, in the vote on the amendment to request the revocation of Markus Pieper as EU envoy for SMEs.

“Lega has always expressed doubts about the appointment by Ursula Von der Leyen, who chose a colleague from her own party and an outgoing MP for such an important role, despite the criticism also leveled by other European commissioners.

“Today’s vote, approved by a wide margin, not only demonstrates that the ‘Ursula majority’ has no longer existed for some time, but that Von der Leyen is increasingly isolated in Europe. The facts are proving us right: you are not the right candidate to lead the EU, change is needed in Europe.”

However, supporters of Pieper argue that the selection process was fair and objective. Ivan Štefanec, a Slovakian MEP, defended the decision, asserting that assessment procedures should not be undermined by political agendas.

Following the vote, Eric Mamer, the European Commission Chief Spokesperson, emphasized the Commission’s institutional independence in recruitment matters. While acknowledging the Parliament’s role, Mamer reaffirmed that Pieper would assume his duties as planned next week.

The controversy surrounding what some have dubbed “Piepergate” has prompted calls for an independent investigation into the appointment process. Critics have raised concerns about Pieper’s ties to corporate interests and his advocacy for deregulatory and fossil fuel-friendly policies.

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