Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- The French candidate for the European Commission has finally been rejected by the European Parliament by 82 votes to 29. She was unable to satisfy Members of the Parliament about allegations of fictitious employment of staff at the EU parliament and a €10,000 a month consultancy contract with the Berggruen Institute, a US think tank founded by the US-German billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, whilst she was a Euro Deputy from 2013 to 2016.
According to the Financial Journal Les Echos the rejection has ‘arrived like a thunder clap on the French political scene’.
French opposition parties have been quick to attack President Macron after the rejection of his candidate, Sylvie Goulard, for the important post of Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Information Technology, Defense and Space, especially as the EU is one of the areas where Macron likes to parade his superiority.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon leader of La France Insoumise said France had been ridiculed by the choice Macron had made. He said that Europe was now ‘a raft without a helmsman’. The leader of the Republican Party in the Senate Bruno Retaillau said that the French President had suffered ‘a terrible humiliation on the European stage’.
President Macron condemned what he called the ‘resentment’ and the ‘small mindedness’ that had triggered the rejection. He said he ‘wanted to understand’. The rejection has come as a shock to the Elysée. ‘We thought that her candidature would get through. It’s a real surprise’ admitted a Macronist EU Deputy.
The French President, who was attending the 6th Conference for the funding of the fight against Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis at Lyon had difficulty concealing his anger on hearing the news. He commented ‘I do not understand how when the nominated President of the Commission discussed the matter with the Presidents of three parliamentary groups who all agreed, that things can change like that. I need to understand.’ He insisted ‘I was told ‘your candidate is terrific we will take her’ and then finally I am told ‘we don’t want her’.
The rejection may delay the installation of the new Commission due for November 1st. France will have to nominate a new candidate who will have to be approved by the European Parliament.
The affair comes at a bad time for the EU as the Brexit crisis comes to a head and German leadership is largely absent, as Chancellor Merkel gets ready to quit the political scene.