Brussels (AP) - French President Emmanuel Macron must nominate a new candidate for the European Commission by Ursula von der Leyen. Macron's original candidate Sylvie Goulard did not get the necessary majority in a vote by the competent committee members of the European Parliament.
According to the parliament, only 29 MPs voted for them, but 82 against them. Reason for the refusal were among other things still ongoing investigations against Goulard to an affair about fake employment and a multi-year highly paid consultant for the think tank of a private investor. Goulard resigned as French Minister of Defense in 2017 because of the scam affair.
Macron and future EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen now have to agree on another candidate. Actually, the new EU Commission is scheduled to start work on 1 November.
The vote came on Thursday afternoon after another one and a half hour hearing from Goulard. The 54-year-old Frenchwoman had unsuccessfully tried to dispel doubts about her integrity. The most difficult question for Goulard was why she stepped down as French Minister of Defense, but now thinks she can be EU Commissioner. Goulard believes that EU Commissioners should not be subject to the same standards as French ministers, Danish MEP Pernille Weiss (EPP) criticized at the end of the session.
Goulard had previously stated that it is common in France to withdraw from investigations - but there is no such tradition at EU level. She also referred to the principle of the presumption of innocence and the support of the future EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for her candidacy. In addition, she stressed that there is no prosecution.
Goulard is the first candidate for the EU Commission by Ursula von der Leyen, who does not get the necessary approval after hearings in parliament. However, even before the hearings, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament vetoed the candidates from Hungary and Romania for fundamental conflicts of interest.