France's Commission pick Goulard falls at final hurdle

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By Joanna Gill
France's Commission pick Goulard falls at final hurdle
Copyright  REUTERS

After the Romanian and Hungarian candidates at the beginning of the procedure, it is now the turn of French Commissioner-designate Sylvie Goulard to be rejected.

In spite of her efforts during a second hearing on Thursday she failed to convince MEPs to allow her to become European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry and Defense in the new Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen.

"I have not been indicted, I am not indicted and therefore I simply ask you to take the facts into account and make your decision in your soul and conscience knowing that among the principles, you have cited that of the integrity of political persons and that is important. There is also that of the presumption of innocence," she told MEPs.

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. At the time, she was forced to resign as French Minister of the Armed Forces. 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.

Of the MEPs present, 82 voted against her candidacy, 29 for and 1 abstained. A real snub for French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been successful so far on the European stage.