MEPs vote down Macron's nominee for European Commission internal market post

French commissioner-designate rejected by MEPs

French commissioner-designate rejected by MEPs

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

Criticism of Goulard was led by the European People's Party, which some MEPs have interpreted as the centre-right bloc's revenge on Macron after he undermined EPP group leader Manfred Weber's attempt to become commission president.

Goulard protested her innocence at her second hearing, as well as during an earlier hearing on October 2.

"Sylvie Goulard has been the object of a political game which affects the whole of the European Commission", said a statement issued by Macron's office.

More than her skills, it is her integrity that is in question here: MEPs criticize her for being investigated by the French authorities and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) for the case of fictitious jobs linked to MEP assistants.

"The fact that she didn't seem to see an ethical problem with taking large amounts of money from a USA think-tank while being an MEP raises serious concerns for someone wanting to hold one of the most high profile jobs in the European Union".

Goulard, a close ally of French President Emmanuel Macron, resigned as French defense minister when the investigation was opened two years ago.

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 USA think-tank. Several questions touched upon her assigned tasks, including the EU's planned industrial policy, tackling geo-blocking, the audiovisual sector and Artificial Intelligence.

"One can never be certain of what will happen, but normally I won't end up being charged", she said.

They also criticized her work between 2013 and 2016 with the Berggruen Institute, a think-tank based in the United States, for which she was paid more than 10,000 euros per month while she was an MEP. She says it was not illegal. But French authorities are still conducting a separate probe into her party while the European Union anti-fraud office is looking into Goulard herself.

After an initial hearing left many lawmakers asking for more explanations, Goulard had to submit written answers to a set of questions before she was quizzed again.

Lawmakers' decision against her candidacy leaves Macron in an uncomfortable position.

The rejection is an added spanner in the works for incoming commission president Ursula von der Leyen, after the nominees for Romania and Hungary were also rejected.

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

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