by Eric Maurice
What did Jean-Claude Juncker expect when he came to the European Commission press room last Wednesday (21 February)?
The surprise press conference, announced just 40 minutes beforehand, was to make public the appointment of the new secretary general, the EU executive's highest civil servant.
By the mere fact that it was conveyed in person by the institution's political boss, the news - which would have usually been is of interest to only a handful of people beyond Brussels' EU quarter - was thus given the highest importance.
A week later, a commission spokesman, trying to disentangle himself from the web of the many questions raised by the move, told journalists that the appointment was not an issue "of interest beyond the press room".
If so, why did Juncker - who rarely comes to the press room - make it himself such a big topic?
The reason maybe lies in the identity of the chosen one: Martin Selmayr - aka Rasputin, Machiavelli or the Monster - Juncker's all-powerful head of cabinet.
Juncker, a weakened president of the European Commission, owes a lot to Selmayr, who ran his campaign for the office, and runs his daily activities with an iron fist that many in the Berlaymont building say is not even covered by a velvet glove.