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Macron says strong new EU commission ‘indispensable’ after French candidate rejected

Published on October 11, 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday a strong new European Commission must be formed to prevent any political crisis, after MEPs rejected his candidate for the Brussels executive.

“I think it is indispensable to have a strong commission in order to carry through ambitious projects,” Macron told reporters in Paris alongside Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, adding a political crisis should not be allowed to develop after the vetoing of Sylvie Goulard.

He said Europe was going through an “important and sensitive moment” with the new commission set to take office later this year and a new European Parliament in place.

“It is indispensable to leave behind the current tensions and have a strong commission,” he added.

Macron suffered a rare political defeat on the European stage when European lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against Goulard taking an ambitious portfolio covering industrial policy, defence spending, high-tech and space.

The French president on Thursday issued an angry tirade against the decision, which he put down to “petty” game-playing by MEPs, who had given assurances to incoming European Commission chief Ursula Von der Leyen that Goulard would pass.

“I was told ‘your nominee is great’, and they take it, and now they finally tell me they don’t want it anymore. I need that to be explained to me,” Macron told reporters in the French city of Lyon.

A former MEP, Goulard resigned in June 2017 from a short stint as France’s defence minister after being questioned by investigators in a ghost jobs scandal involving a parliamentary assistant.

The EU Anti-Fraud Office has also opened an investigation into the case. Both proceedings are ongoing, but Goulard has not been charged.

Macron must now nominate a new candidate, but it is not certain that he or she will be given the same portfolio.