High strength multiphase CMnSi steel is increasingly used in passenger cars. Si and Mn alloying levels are typically in the range of 1-2% in mass. While Si improves the mechanical properties, it considerably deteriorates the galvanisability of steel. Residual water vapour in the reducing gas atmosphere during the intercritical or austenitic annealing results in the selective oxidation of Si and Mn at the steel surface. Besides Mn and Si, C is oxidized as well at the steel surface, leading to the formation of CO gas and decarburisation of the steel surface. This decarburisation has a major influence on the phase composition in the steel surface region: it shifts the ferrite to austenite transformation to higher annealing temperatures, leading to differences in surface and bulk microstructure. The phase composition influences the solubility and diffusivity of all alloying elements near the surface. The evolution with temperature of the selective oxidation at the steel surface has been studied by interrupted annealing in a protective atmosphere containing residual water vapour. The influence of the annealing temperature on the selective oxidation of Mn and Si is characterized by XPS (X-ray Photo-electron Spectroscopy) analysis.