French commissioner-designate rejected by MEPs

Elias Hubbard
October 10, 2019

"I'm clean", a frustrated Goulard protested at her first audition earlier this month in response to questions from MEPs about the ethics of her position.

The European Parliament voted 82-29 on Thursday against approving Goulard as France's member of the European Commission.

Goulard is the third commissioner to be rejected by the European Parliament, after MEPs also sent picks from Hungary and Romania packing.

French President Emmanuel Macron has suffered a blow after MEPs rejected his nominee for the European Commission, Sylvie Goulard.

Some in the parliament suggested the outcome was "Weber's revenge", as Macron had crushed the hopes of Manfred Weber, a German centre-right MEP leader who aspired to lead the European commission but who was blocked by the French president.

During her introductory remarks, Ms Goulard said that her broad portfolio "makes sense" in order to break silos, address technological challenges and modernise the economy as a whole.

Goulard was questioned by lawmakers about a fictional jobs scandal at the European Parliament in which she was implicated and also about her high-paid work as an adviser for a US think-tank. But she voiced regret for the thinktank job which she said had cast a doubt over her integrity and independence, values that she said were of "the utmost importance" to her.

In September, she answered questions from French investigators.

On Thursday, she said she deserved the presumption of innocence over the allegations, which have never been tested in court. She says it was not illegal.

Goulard, a liberal, was slated to become the EU's next internal market commissioner with a portfolio that spans industrial policy, defence and technology. "EU citizens won't put their trust in their institutions when a commissioner sees absolutely no problem in making €10,000 a month from a private lobby in addition to her MEP salary".

Macron will need to find another candidate.

Despite her judicial case, Goulard had been personally picked by Macron, who has portrayed himself as the champion of Europe since he came to power two years ago, pledging to reform the bloc and enhance its sovereignty.

He plans to phone von der Leyen to discuss the next steps, which follow separate EU Parliament decisions forcing the Hungarian and Romanian governments to name new candidates for the incoming commission.

The new European Commission, which proposes EU laws and ensures they are implemented throughout the bloc, is set to take office on November 1.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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