Brussels disavows top official’s attack on Pedro Sánchez’s government

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez | Andres Ballesteros/AFP via Getty Images



The Commission on Tuesday distanced itself from an outspoken attack by one of its most powerful officials on the Spanish government’s management of the coronavirus crisis.

Last week, Cecilio Madero Villarejo, who since March 1 has been deputy director general for mergers in the Commission’s department for competition, published a strongly-worded critique of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in the ABC newspaper, charging him with “manifest incompetence” in economic matters.

The piece also called his alliance with Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias “a Bolivarian court of miracles,” suggested he may “suffer some kind of mental disorder,” or otherwise his actions would place him “in the realm of criminal law,” and called for his immediate resignation.

The attack, both for its tone and content, is highly unusual, particularly coming from a Commission heavyweight, who has been at the forefront of the antitrust showdown with Google.

EU staff rules maintain that the institutions’ personnel should exercise freedom of expression “with due respect to the principles of loyalty and impartiality” and for any publication related to “any matter dealing with the work of the Union.”

A spokesperson for the Commission on Tuesday confirmed that “Mr. Madero did not seek authorization. He published this letter as a private citizen.”

The Commission spokesperson for human resources added that “this does not reflect the Commission’s official position.” Asked whether this constitutes a breach of EU staff rules, he added that “the Commission is looking into this matter.”

Aitor Hernández-Morales contributed reporting.

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