German MEP Markus Pieper announced at the beginning of the week that he will not take up a high-paying position at the European Commission, to which he was controversially appointed, after the controversy caused by the issue, threatening the election campaign of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a few weeks before the European elections.

At the end of January, the elected official, who belongs to the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), was chosen for the new post of special envoy for small and medium-sized enterprises. But his appointment was contested, notably by the European Commissioner responsible for the internal market, Thierry Breton.

The selection of Ms von der Leyen’s compatriot, and already a member of her party, fueled accusations of favouritism. Even more so because it was a few weeks after the conference in Bucharest at the beginning of March of the European People’s Party (EPP, to which the CDU belongs), which supported Mrs. von der Leyen’s candidacy for a second term at the head of the Commission.

Last Thursday, the European Parliament requested, by an overwhelming majority (382 votes in favor, 144 against, 80 abstentions), that the appointment be annulled and a new procedure announced.

Mr Pieper said he was the victim of a political campaign by Mr Breton, the French commissioner who belongs to the liberal Renew group.

“Given the way Breton boycotted my taking up my duties at the Commission in the first place, I don’t see at the moment any possibility” of exercising them, Mr Pieper told the German newspaper Handelsblatt. According to him, the “sole” motivation of the French commissioner’s actions was “partisan” expediency.

Mr Pieper signed his contract on March 31 and was due to take up his duties on Tuesday. He was expected to report directly to Mrs von der Leyen — and to Mr Breton, the de facto commissioner for industry.

The 15th level position, one of the highest in the European hierarchy, would have earned him 18,430 euros gross per month, according to official European Commission payroll data.

Ursula von der Leyen recorded his resignation. “The president respects her and at the same time regrets the decision of Marcus Pieper to renounce the duties of the envoy for SMEs”, said in a statement released on Monday night by her representative Eric Mamer.

“The president has decided to suspend the resumption of the selection process for the position (…) for the period after the European elections,” he added.

Mr Breton, along with Italian Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, Luxembourg Commissioner Nicolas Schmitt and the EU’s foreign policy chief, Spanish High Representative Josep Borrell, questioned the “transparency” and “impartiality” of Mr Pieper’s selection process. in their letter to Mrs. von der Leyen.

Two candidates, Czech MEP Martina Dlabajova (Renew), backed by Mr Breton, and Anna Steliger, of the Swedish business confederation, had reached the final stage of the process with higher formal qualifications than Mr Pieper.