EU parliament's president accused of political cronyism
Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, has been accused of political cronyism after handing out top administrative posts to members of his personal staff.
The German MEP, a member of the Party of European Socialists, is also alleged to have used the parliament's civil service and thus its budget for his personal campaigning to become president of the European Commission after elections in May.
The accusations have been made by the EU assembly's budgetary control committee and will be voted on by all MEPs next week after a debate on the parliament's spending in 2012.
According to MEPs, Mr Schulz (58) has lined up promotions for senior members of his personal office, or cabinet, giving them jobs in the highest reaches of Brussels officialdom and raising questions over the neutrality of the EU parliament's administration, which numbers 6,200 civil servants.
The parliament's budgetary control committee noted that "five members of the president's cabinet are earmarked for posts as directors-general or directors in parliament's administration; (and) criticises this political hijacking of management positions and the undermining of the staff regulations".
Two of the officials, Markus Winkler, Mr Schulz's chef de cabinet, and Herwig Kaiser, his deputy, are earmarked for director-general posts at the highest level of the EU civil service with salaries that begin at €203,000 a year. Both are socialists.
Three other advisers to Mr Schulz, Maria Jose Martinez Iglesias, Alexandre Stutzmann and Lorenzo Mannelli, are tipped to get posts as "directors" with salaries beginning at €179,436.
A spokesman for Mr Schulz denied the allegations and insisted that the staff promotions were fair and open to others, with the final say on appointments decided by a cross-party "bureau" of MEPs.
"The bureau's appointments are clearly based on competence, qualifications and management skills and are certainly not part of a political hijacking," he said.
The committee also accused Mr Schulz of using "the staff in his cabinet, parliament's information offices and travel expenses" to campaign for socialists while on official visits as the assembly's speaker. (© Daily Telegraph, London)