MEPs criticise French finance minister, seen as potential EU nominee

  

French finance miniser Pierre Moscovici outraged the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, after cancelling a hearing on France’s economic policy for a fourth time. EurActiv France reports.

“I am very disappointed, extremely disappointed. It looks like presenting to us is a rendez-vous which people have no problem cancelling,” said Sharon Bowles, chairwoman of the parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, during a meeting in Brussels on 18 March.

Like all finance ministers in the European Union, Pierre Moscovici was supposed to present France’s economic policy to the Committee.

Sharon Bowles added insult to injury, by reminding the French minister that this was his fourth cancelation. “The secretariat examined the final opportunity during this legislature or what could be the last oppurtunity, that is 24 or 25 March” she continued, underlining that there might be an opportunity to reschedule in April. “We will focus our efforts in this direction,” she concluded.

The successive cancelations by the French minister annoyed many, including the German MEP Werner Langen, who suggested not inviting him again.

Mea culpa

The MEPs’ anger embarrassed the French Ministry for Finance, which eventually announced that Pierre Moscovici would visit them on 17 April.

The ministry claimed the cancellation was due to a busy agenda, and recalled Moscovici’s support “of the democratic role of the European Parliament, of which he was the vice-president.”

A job at the Commission?

If tensions over cancelled meetings are so high, it is also because the finance minister has expressed interest in taking over from Michel Barnier, the current French Commissioner, in charge of the internal market.

The European executive will be renewed after the May 2014 European elections. Candidates from all member states are examined by the European Council, but must be approved by the Parliament beforehand.

The candidates are invited for an audition in front of the parliamentary committee relative to their portfolio. The College of Commissioners is then subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament, which has the power of veto. Pierre Moscovici hopes that this controversy does not affect their decision.

Among French socialists, Moscovici is not the only one to have shown interest in a Commission portfolio. Legislator Elisabeth Guigou, President of the Commission of Foreign Affairs in France's parliament, is also interested in a European Commission portfolio. Of those based in Brussels, MEPs Catherine Trautmann, and Pervenche Béres, have also expressed interest.

Timeline: 
  • 22-25 May 2014: European elections in the 28 member states
  • 26-27 June 2014: nomination of the President of the Commission during the European Council.
  • Summer 2014 : The new president choses his team and the future commissioners are subject to individual auditions in front of the European Parliament in September
  • October 2014 : The European Parliament confirms the members of the new Commission
  • November  2014 : deadline for the start of the new Commission
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