Ursula von der Leyen's Appointee Resigns After Favoritism Accusations

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.16 - 2024 7:49 AM CET

Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com
Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com
Ursula von der Leyen's appointee has resigned following allegations of favoritism.

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Markus Pieper, the newly appointed representative for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) under the European Commission, has resigned from his position just hours before his scheduled start.

This decision follows intense criticism and accusations of favoritism in the appointment process led by Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission.

Controversial Appointment Sparks Criticism

The choice of Pieper, a German Member of the European Parliament (MEP), for the high-profile position drew immediate backlash from other members of the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Critics argued that the selection process was biased, citing reports that two other candidates, who had reportedly outperformed Pieper in preliminary evaluations, were passed over for the role.

Internal Conflicts

The controversy reached a peak last week when the European Parliament passed a resolution urging the Commission to revoke Pieper's appointment.

Reports emerged of significant opposition from Thierry Breton, the French European Commissioner responsible for EU industrial policy, further complicating Pieper’s position.

Addressing the controversy, Pieper expressed to the German newspaper Handelsblatt his concerns about the mounting opposition and his ability to meet the expectations of the role.

“At this point, I don’t see the possibility of fulfilling the legitimate expectations associated with the position,” Pieper stated to the newspaper.

Von der Leyen's Response

Responding to Pieper’s resignation, von der Leyen expressed both respect and regret for his decision, according to her spokesman.

Markus Pieper is a proven expert on small and medium-sized enterprises and won a multi-stage selection process," the spokesman said Monday evening.

In light of the ongoing controversy, von der Leyen has decided to suspend the reopening of the selection process for this position until after the European Parliament elections in June. This pause is intended to allow the incoming European Parliament and Commission to address the issue afresh.

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