The atmosphere is so tense at the Commission that rumours are considered as truths. For instance, the de facto interim posting of Philip Lowe, Neil Kinnock's chef de cabinet (Neil Kinnock being the Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for the internal administrative reform) to the position of Deputy Secretary-General to replace Bernhard Zepter, busy campaigning in the local elections in Freiburg (Baden-W?rttemberg), has led certain well-intentioned or not so well-intentioned minds to believe that Mr. Lowe is perhaps in fact getting ready, with Mr Kinnock's blessing, to take over the General Secretariat from its incumbent, the Irishman David O'Sullivan. Although Mr O'Sullivan has indeed been criticised as Secretary-General, as was revealed at the European Commission's seminar in Knokke last December, his departure as head of the Commission's delegation in Washington to replace G?nther Burghardt, due for early retirement (Article 50), is denied by the man himself and by the cabinet of the President of the Commission, Romano Prodi, who states that he has total confidence in Mr O'Sullivan.But the major overhaul looming up has let Eurocrats' imagination run wild, given the many possible scenarios. There is a general feeling that it will be Competition Commissioner Mario Monti who will be setting the mood. At the end of December, when the EU executive board had a first bash at trying to agree a package of nominations, Mr Monti, backed by the German Permanent Representation opposed the departure of Alexander Schaub from the post of Director-General for Competition (DG Comp). The job will nevertheless be up for grabs by May 3. Two well-known candidates have put their names in the hat: Philip Lowe and Jonathan Faull, the current head of the Directorate-General for Press and Communication (DG Press). A third candidate is John Mogg, Director-General for the Internal Market (DG Markt). Mr Mogg has the advantage on the one hand of already being an A1 grade official, and on the other, of knowing Mr Monti well, having worked with him when he served as Internal Market and Taxation Commissioner. Moreover, be it himself or another Briton, the United Kingdom's Permanent Representation has been working hard behind the scenes to secure this post, traditionally held by a German, for Britain. Germany is however showing stiff resistance, particularly as several senior German officials are eligible for...

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