European conservatives are keeping up the pressure on Sylvie Goulard, Frances nominee for the next European Commission.
The center-right European Peoples Party (EPP) insists Goulard, who is slated to take a beefed-up job overseeing the EUs internal market, must face a second confirmation hearing in the European Parliament. They have also suggested she should lose a chunk of her planned portfolio.
Any failure to confirm Goulard, an ex-MEP supported by the liberal-centrist Renew Europe group, would be a blow to Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, particularly as the Parliament has already rejected two of her nominees over ethical concerns. It would also embarrass French President Emmanuel Macron, who is close to Goulard and secured an influential portfolio for her. Even removing some of Goulards planned responsibilities would be a defeat for von der Leyen and Macron.
Members of the EPP have criticized Goulards performance at her tense first hearing last week, and some want more reassurances that she would step down from the Commission if she is formally charged in a legal probe into her use of parliamentary assistants.
Other political groups are holding off on deciding whether Goulard should face another hearing until they see her answers to written questions, submitted by MEPs after her first grilling. But the EPP argues only the timing of a second hearing should be open to debate.
“I am fairly impressed about the plundering success of the Elysée, which managed to get three directorate generals” — Christian Ehler, the EPP coordinator for the Industrial and Research Committee
“The second hearing is going to come anyway,” said Christian Ehler, the EPP coordinator for the Industrial and Research Committee, one of two panels in the Parliament overseeing Goulards confirmation process. “It only depends when the written answers come.”
If a second hearing is requested, it could take place on Thursday morning, Parliament officials said.
Goulard has until Tuesday at noon to respond to MEPs concerns. Her answers will be examined by the coordinators of the Industry and Research and Internal Market committees, who would need to vote by a two-thirds majority to request an additional hearing. That request would then go to Parliaments Conference of Presidents, a committee of senior MEPs.
So far, the far-right Identity and Democracy group as well as the far-left GUE are likely to support the EPP in making such a request, regardless of Goulards written answers.
Goulard is close with French President Emmanuel Macron | Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
Members of the EPP say they are not convinced Goulard could manage a wide-ranging portfolio that would include items as diverse as the defense industry, space and audiovisual policies.
But some of their objections relate to the idea that France, and Macron specifically, has been given too much power and influence through Goulards planned portfolio.
“I am fairly impressed about the plundering success of the Elysée, which managed to get three directorate generals,” Ehler said.
Such comments will fuel suspicion among their political opponents that the campaign against Goulard is an attempt to exact revenge on Macron, who blocked EPP group leader Manfred Webers campaign to become European Commission president.
Those suspicions will only be bolstered by demands from EPP members that the audiovisual sector should go to incoming Innovation and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel — another EPP politician.
Sabine Verheyen, a German member of the EPP and the Parliaments culture committee chair, expressed doubts during Goulards initial hearing that the French nominee would have time to deal with audiovisual policy given her broad portfolio.
Gabriel, as the current commissioner for digital, would be well-placed to deal with the audiovisual sector because she already knows the files, said Michaela Šojdrová, the EPP coordinator for the Parliaments culture committee.
Last week, Goulard insisted she was “clean” and called on MEPs to respect her “presumption of innocence.”
“In 2014, it was decided to move audiovisual policy from the [Hungarian] Commissioner Tibor Navracsics for political reasons. Now it is not needed anymore,” she said.
However, switching audiovisual policy to Gabriel is also backed by the center-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D).
That support is partly because members of the Parliaments culture committee — already disappointed that the world “culture” is absent from Gabriels portfolio — are eager to oversee a commissioner with responsibility for audiovisual policy, one of the few areas in which they have responsibility for legislating.
“There is a strong consensus that the audiovisual and media sector … must be given to Mariya Gabriel to ensure that it is Read More – Source