New European Commission delayed by at least a month
As reported on Thursday, MEPs overwhelmingly rejected Sylvie Goulard, the French nominee to be commissioner for the EU’s internal market and industrial policy, including the defense and space sectors, after Goulard failed in two separate hearings to sufficiently explain allegations of financial misconduct and a very high-paid consulting position with a U.S.-based think thank for which she did little work. The vote, by secret ballot, wasn’t even close: MEPs crushed her nomination 82 to 29.
The decision to push a "risky" candidate, which eventually backfired and will probably cost the new EC at least one month, reflects poorly on both French President Emmanuel Macron and President-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. The two had a public fallout yesterday after the EP1s decision, according to Politico's Friday newsletter.
Rifts between European leaders aside, it is now all but certain that the new European Commission will not take office on 1 November as von der Leyen is now three commissioners short of a full College after European Parliament previously rejected the Romanian and Hungarian nominees, also over ethical concerns. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán nominated Olivér Várhelyi for commissioner last Monday after the EP rejected László Trócsányi for a second time, but even this decision was only made formal at this Wednesday's cabinet session. The situation is somewhat more complicated in Romania as the government collapsed following a vote of no confidence on Thursday, which means there is currently no power in Romania that could nominate another commissioner in place of twice-rejected Rovana Plumb.
All Commissioners must be approved by European Parliament one by one, first by the legal committee then by the relevant committee. Once this process is complete, the EP's plenary session votes a single time on the entire commission. As the EP is not in continuous session, it will not be able to vote on the new EC in time for it to be set up before 1 December. This also means that a potential no-deal Brexit on 31 October will have to be handled by outgoing president Jean-Claude Juncker.
Cover photo: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images