Published On: Tue, Sep 10th, 2019

Emmanuel Macron handed power over EU defence and single market | World | News


Sylvie Goulard was given the significant powers as Ursula von der Leyen, the next Commission president, dished out a policy portfolio to her top team. The former MEP and French defence minister, who is a close ally of the French President, will also preside over the EU’s internal market when she takes office on November 1. This will come as a boost to the Elysee Palace, as Paris’ top officials will now have close oversight of the bloc’s defence, industrial and single market policies.

Ms von der Leyen today announced: “As commissioner for the internal market, she will lead our activities in the field of industrial policy and advance the digital single market.”

The German described Ms Goulard as a “passionate European” as part of the press conference to reveal her top team.

The decision to appoint Ms Goulard to the senior role will please Mr Macron as he seeks to convince French voters he has significant control over the EU.

He will inevitably use his ally to campaign for extra layers of protection for French firms and their economic interests against the US and China.

This will enable him to continue his drive for “European champions” – firms that are handpicked for investment to make them competitive against their American and Chinese counterparts.

And this vision will likely stretch to French firms developing high-tech military solutions – such as drones, a new European tank and fighter jets.

As part of Mr Macron’s vision for an EU army, all of the bloc’s militaries will be kitted out with the so-called “European defence technologies”, which are developed, made and as part of a Continent-wide strategy.

Mujtaba Rahman, a political analyst for the Eurasia Group, said: “Goulard’s dual mandate will be seen as another critical victory in Paris.”

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Ms Goulard lasted barely a month into her role as French defence minister after an investigation was opened into the way her political party, MoDem, hired assistants in the Parliament.

She is said not to be the main focus on the investigation and is not formally part of the inquest.

And she has denied any wrongdoing.

Ms Goulard and the 25 other European commissioners announced by Ms von der Leyen now face grilling by MEPs at the European Parliament.

While MEPs are likely to focus on the Hungarian nominee, Laszlo Trocsanyi, in protest against his country’s domestic politics, they are not able to veto just his selection.

Instead they will have to reject the entire bloc, which could plunge the president-elect into a late crisis as she seeks out a replacement to please the Parliament.



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