Sylvie Goulard used to be a member of the European Parliament but that doesnt mean her confirmation hearing will be smooth sailing.
The French nominee for the next European Commission, who is slated to take on a beefed-up role in charge of the EUs internal market, faces the Parliament on Wednesday at a dangerous moment.
Some MEPs from the two biggest groups in Parliament are seething over the rejection of a nominee from each of their political families — Romanian Social Democrat Rovana Plumb and Hungarian Laszlo Trócsányi, who was supported by the center-right European Peoples Party (EPP) bloc.
The pair were ruled out by Parliaments Legal Affairs Committee over concerns about conflicts of interest but some MEPs saw the decision as politically motivated and they are out for revenge.
Some could see her hearing before the industry and internal market committees as a chance to exact some retribution for Macrons successful efforts to take down the Spitzenkandidat system.
As a former Commission official and ex-MEP, Goulard may be well qualified to take on the Commission role. But she is also affiliated with the liberal-centrist Renew Europe group in Parliament, which has yet to suffer a casualty in the confirmation process. That makes her a potential target for MEPs in other groups who want to even up the scores.
In addition, Goulard is a close ally of Emmanuel Macron. Some could see her hearing before the industry and internal market committees as a chance to exact some retribution for the French presidents successful efforts to take down the Spitzenkandidat system, intended to give the Parliament more power in the selection of the Commission president.
Goulard is also facing a legal investigation in France over allegations that European Parliament assistants were used for domestic political work. And she has come under scrutiny for her work as a highly paid consultant for a U.S. think tank while she was an MEP.
On Tuesday, François-Xavier Bellamy, the leader of the French delegation within the EPP group, threatened to block the nomination of candidates “who are the object of legal investigations.” Goulard, he noted, is “under two investigations” over the employment of parliamentary assistants.
“The decision to exclude our Hungarian colleague from the European Commission is motivated only by political and ideological considerations,” Bellamy said in a statement. “If a colleague who has never been the object of a legal procedure is blocked as he was, how can you let through candidates who have been convicted in the past, or who are currently the object of legal investigations?”
Goulard is a close ally of Emmanuel Macron | Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images
Other members of the EPP group, however, were less strident. They said they had not taken any decision to oppose Goulard.
Officially, as far as the Parliament is concerned, questions over Goulards use of assistants are closed after she paid back money owed for what a spokesperson described as “administrative errors which were not intentional and not systemic.” She has also insisted she did nothing wrong in terms of her consultancy work for the U.S.-based Berggruen Institute think tank.
Last week, Goulard successfully cleared the first nomination hurdle in the Parliament when the Legal Affairs Committee, which examines financial declarations of nominees, declared her free of concerns about conflicts of interest.
One official from the center-left Socialists & Democrats group said Goulard “was cleared too easily” by the Legal Affairs Committee. But that does not necessarily mean the group will oppose her in the confirmation process. The official said the group expects Goulard to “make assurances that her pending cases wont affect the whole College of Commissioners.”
One bloc that has already pretty much declared its hand is the far-left GUE group. A spokesperson said the group is “unlikely to support Goulards nomination,” because aside from concerns about ethics and legal cases, “we have severe doubts about her political history on the national level and record as an MEP.”
“Given her background as defense minister, we believe that the portfolio mix of digital economy, industrial policy and internal market together with defense industry and space will rather serve the interests of the arms industry than the public,” the spokesperson added.
However, Goulard also has a solid base of friends in the ParliaRead More – Source