On 21st, February, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced modifications in his close team, following the decision of the current Secretary-General, Alexander Italianer, to retire. Martin Selmayr (former Head of Cabinet) was appointed as the new Secretary-General, and Clara Martinez Alberola (former Deputy Head of Cabinet) will replace him as of March 1st.

Ms Martinez Alberola therefore becomes the first woman, as well as the first Spanish National, holding this position. President Juncker declared: «The next 20 months will be decisive in fully delivering on a Europe that protects, empowers and defends. I need the best team in place. This is why I want Martin Selmayr as the new Secretary-General to steer the talented and hard-working administration of our institution, and Clara Martinez Alberola to lead my personal team». The latter, has been working at the European Commission since 1991, first on legal aspects concerning the Single Market and on the 2004 enlargement. From 2005 to 2014, she served in the Cabinet of President Barroso, where she particularly participated to the production of the Commission’s 2014 proposal for a Framework to safeguard the Rule of Law in the EU. Ms Martinez Alberola then held the post of Principal Adviser at DG Justice, and subsequently joined Juncker’s team. As Deputy Head of Cabinet, she worked on migration issues, she contributed to the implementation of President Juncker’s Better Regulation Agenda and directed the preparation of the annual Commission Work Programmes.

This decision takes place on the same day as Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger, in charge of Budget and Human Resources, presented the appointments decided by the European Commission on several top management level positions. Indeed, two out of five of the new Directors-General for the Juncker Commission are women: Themis Christophidou will be in charge of DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture and Mariana Kotzeva of DG Eurostat. Four women were also appointed Deputy Directors-General, a four-fold increase of female representation at this position in the EC: Viviane Hoffmann for DG Education, Youth, Sports and Culture; Andriana Sukova for DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion; Signe Ratso for DG Research and Innovation; Céline Gauer for DG Health and Food Safety.

After the Commission was repeatedly criticized for the lack of women representation and the gap between what was promised regarding gender equality and the actual implementations, Oettinger reinforces the EC will to keep on improving on this matter, in order to reach the objectives: “I will continue to place a strong emphasis on achieving President Juncker’s target of at least 40% of women in the Commission’s management” from now to 2019.


Marie Peschier


For further information: « European Commission reinforces its senior management to deliver strongly in 2018/2019 and beyond ». Press release. . « European Commission reinforces its senior management to deliver strongly in 2018/2019 and beyond ». Press release. Bulletin quotidien.

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