"Risky" , "embarrassing" : the choice of Sylvie Goulard as next European Commissioner cringes since his announcement by Emmanuel Macron, Wednesday, August 28. Not for his competence and his European commitment, which is rather a consensus, but because of two "cases" which weigh on the former centrist MEP.
1. The parliamentary assistants of MoDem
Sylvie Goulard is first quoted in a survey about potential fictitious jobs of employees in the European Parliament. This preliminary investigation for "breach of trust", opened in June 2017, does not target it directly; but Mrs Goulard is one of the former MoDem MEPs suspected of having employed parliamentary assistants by actually making them work for the party. In the end, this would be tantamount to diverting money from Parliament by making fictitious jobs.
After two years of investigation, the financial police have not yet made their findings. From what has filtered out of the investigation, the most problematic discoveries for the moment would concern Marielle de Sarnez, one of whose parliamentary assistants would have played a role far removed from European issues.
A resignation to "freely demonstrate" his "good faith"
The police have for the moment auditioned only two former MEP MoDem: Corinne Lepage and Jean-Luc Bennahmias. For the rest, they are limited to former employees and parliamentary assistants of the party - including Stéphane Thérou, one of the former employees of Sylvie Goulard, heard in April.Reactions: Sylvie Goulard's appointment in Brussels goes badly for Bayrou and the opposition
If none of the actors in the case has been indicted, Ms. Goulard's detractors are pleased to recall that she resigned as Minister of the Armed Forces in June 2017 after the opening of the investigation, willingly seeing an admission of guilt. On the contrary, she explained that she had taken this decision to "freely demonstrate" her "good faith" and to protect Edouard Philippe's government: "Do you imagine a judicial act concerning me in the middle of a military or terrorist operation? I felt that it was not possible. That's all, " she told the JDD .
By accepting the position of European Commissioner, however, Sylvie Goulard takes a similar risk. It will theoretically be protected by diplomatic immunity specific to this function, but a judicial summons or an indictment could harm the image of the new Commission of Ursula von der Leyen.
" Two weights, two measures " ?
MEP Manuel Bompard, an insubordinate France figure (LFI), suggested that Sylvie Goulard had benefited from preferential treatment thanks to her proximity to Emmanuel Macron:
"Parliamentary assistants business": when you are close to power, you end up European Commissioner. When you are ... https://t.co/gM4OKbJ7yx- mbompard (@Bompard Handbook)
Mr. Bompard will appear in September in the criminal court alongside Jean-Luc Mélenchon and several figures of the LFI for having obstructed, one year earlier, the search of justice in the premises of the movement. This hearing is therefore not linked, as it implies, to the case of the parliamentary assistants themselves. Jean-Luc Mélenchon is also well targeted by a preliminary survey on the activity of his former European parliamentary assistants, but it is at the same stage as the investigation of the elected MoDem: it has not been put in examination or referred to correctional
2. Remuneration by an American think tank
The other criticism that is made to Sylvie Goulard is not a case strictly speaking. Between 2013 and 2015, when she was a MEP, she was employed as a "special adviser" of an American think tank for a monthly salary of between 10 and 12,000 euros gross. This parallel activity was not secret: Mrs Goulard had included it in her declarations of interest at the end of 2013, like dozens of other deputies. The information, already noted by the specialized website Euractiv in 2014, resurfaced when he resigned from the government in 2017. But it has never had a judicial consequence, because these parallel activities are authorized in the European Parliament.
The detractors of Sylvie Goulard see it rather as an ethical problem. Jean-Christophe Picard, the president of the Anticor association, questioned about France Info, fears that she "abandoned" her term as MEP when she worked for the think tank. Parliamentary statistics tend to refute this thesis, since his attendance at the meeting was rather good.
Critics also focus on the nature of the think tank, the Berggruen Institute on Governance, founded by the billion-dollar German-American Nicolas Berggruen, a collector's son of art, having made a fortune in real estate and finance, before to take control of the Spanish press group Prisa (he was, in this capacity, a member until 2013 of the World Supervisory Board, of which Prisa was a minority shareholder). Its institute, launched in 2010, aims to "promote long-term solutions to the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century" , by "redesigning political and social institutions" to improve global governance.
A unique case among the 27 candidates to the Commission
Interviewed in 2014 by Euractiv , Sylvie Goulard ensured that this activity was "coherent" with her mandate as MEP, since it consisted of "promoting Europe" . She was indeed special adviser to the "Council for the Future of Europe" , a section of the think tank bringing together politicians, economists and historians to reflect on the future of the euro area after the Greek crisis, for which it produced " reports " and " working notes " - the archives still keep track of them.
This council promotes an economic policy similar to that of Emmanuel Macron, mixing "structural reforms" and boosting the economy. He even praised Jean-Claude Juncker for giving the idea of his big investment plan of 315 billion euros, supposed to counterbalance the idea of a "Europe-austerity", and did not never defended a financial deregulation agenda that could have benefited the billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.
It remains that this contract, by its mere existence, seems to contradict the principles of moralization promoted by Emmanuel Macron during his campaign. The French president has certainly given up the total ban on consulting activities for parliamentarians, but he has strongly framed them. In addition, according to our research, Sylvie Goulard is the only one of the 27 candidates to the European Commission to have been paid by a think tank in the past.Synopsis: The little "sides" of French MEPs