European lawmakers want more and better answers from Sylvie Goulard.
The internal market commissioner-designate failed to convince MEPs that she has been cleared of all legal and ethical woes in a tense confirmation hearing Wednesday in the European Parliament, and will face another round of questioning and possibly another hearing.
Representatives of key political groups met to discuss her candidacy after the hearing. According to two MEPs who participated in that meeting, all groups except for Goulards own Renew Europe asked for a set of three additional questions to be sent out that will focus on legal and ethical concerns.
“There was almost unanimity to draft questions,” said Virginie Joron, a French far-right MEP. “The only ones who voted against the questions were from Renew Europe.”
“The problems raised are clearly the issues of transparency and integrity,” Joron added.
Polish MEP Marek Krasnodębsk from the European Conservatives and Reformists confirmed that MEPs will submit more written questions to Goulard.
The rejection of Goulard would be a tremendous blow for Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, who has already seen the Parliament block two of her nominees, the Hungarian and Romanian candidates, because of ethical concerns.
Goulard failing to win confirmation would also be a serious embarrassment for French President Emmanuel Macron, who is close to her and used his political muscle to make sure that she would have a broad, influential portfolio overseeing the EU internal market. Macron has sought to portray himself, and his political family Renew Europe, as leading a renovation of the EU and its institutions.
Sylvie Goulard reads her documents as she answers questions at her hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels on October 2, 2019 | Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images
Goulard appeared before MEPs from the industry and internal market committees, both in charge of issues covered by her vast portfolio spanning industrial, defense and digital policy.
At her hearing, Goulard faced repeated and relentless questioning over allegations that European Parliament assistants were used for domestic political work. She was also grilled over her work as a highly paid consultant for a U.S. think tank while she was an MEP.
Goulard promised to “respect the outcome” of the legal probe into her use of assistants, insisted she was “clean” and called on MEPs to respect her “presumption of innocence.”
Asked if she would resign from the European Commission if convicted in that probe, she said: “I will obviously respect that sort of outcome, but for now it is a hypothetical question.”
But Goulard struggled to convince MEPs about the legal investigation and her job at the Berggruen Institute while she was a MEP. The California-based think tank, headed by businessman Nicolas Berggruen, paid Goulard more than €10,000 per month before taxes to act as a “special adviser.”
“There is a cloud of doubt hanging over the candidacy of Sylvie Goulard,” Christian Ehler, the EPP coordinator of the industry committee, said. “She couldnt answer to a lot of questions … on her legal allegations in France but also in the EU.”
An official from the Socialists and Democrats group had the same analysis.
Ville Ninistö, coordinator for the Greens/EFA group in the industry committee, said before the group meeting: “We will request a second round of written questions to her; mainly to clarify what kind of concrete legislative proposals she wants to put on the table to strengthen the circular economy and to properly fix the aftermath of the Dieselgate scandal.”
If the committees are still not satisfied once Goulard has answered the new written questions, the Parliaments Conference of Presidents — the president of the assembly and the leaders of the political groups — can arrange another hearing.
Goulard, a close, early ally of Macron, resigned as French defense minister in June 2017 following a legal investigation into her use of assistaRead More – Source