Wednesday

15th Aug 2018

Moscovici gets rough ride as commission hearings turn partisan

  • Pierre Moscovici defended his record as French finance minister during fiery exchanges with MEPs on Thursday

French commission nominee Pierre Moscovici was the latest candidate to face a tough ride from MEPs, as the hearings for the EU executive became increasingly partisan.

Moscovici, a former MEP who served as finance minister in Francois Hollande's government between 2012 and April this year, was nominated by Jean-Claude Juncker to become the commissioner tasked with policing the EU's economic governance programme.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Appearing before the Parliament's economic affairs committee on Thursday (2 October), Moscovici was repeatedly attacked by centre-right and liberal deputies critical of his two year ministerial stint.

"No one of good faith can imagine you should be given a post that you failed in as finance minister of France,” said Alain Lamassoure, who leads France's centre-right delegation in the EPP, the Parliament's largest political group.

Following the hearing, the EPP's economic affairs spokesman, Burkhard Balz, described Moscovici's candidacy as "hardly credible".

"His answers on his time as French Finance Minister were extremely weak. He did not show any vision for the future of the Monetary Union," Balz added.

In contrast, Moscovici received fulsome praise from the centre-left Socialist and Democrat group. Group spokeswoman Elisa Ferreira said Moscovici would make an "excellent commissioner" adding that his was "the best performance we've seen so far" during the hearing process.

On Wednesday (1 October) the French government rejected calls from Brussels for it to adopt further austerity measures, adopting a budget programme that will not bring its budget deficit within the EU's 3 percent limit under 2017, four years later than initially promised by Moscovici.

The French government has blamed a flat-lining economy, which is projected to grow by a mere 0.4 percent this year, and by 1 percent in 2015.

But during a fiery debate which at times descended into heckling between EPP and Socialist deputies, Moscovici insisted that France had not broken the EU's rules under his watch and that he had reduced the country's deficit.

"France has to respect the rules like everybody else," retorted Moscovici, who added that France would not receive "special treatment" from him.

In a bid to pacify conservatives who have criticised France's pace of economic reforms, he commented that "growth and structural reforms do not contradict each other".

Parliament sources have indicated that the EPP were hoping to force Moscovici to be summoned for a second hearing with MEPs before deciding on his fate next week.

The Parliament's left-wing and Green groups on Wednesday insisted that UK conservative Jonathan Hill face the economic affairs committee for a second time next week, after complaining that he had shown little knowledge of the main legislative files in his financial services portfolio.

Meanwhile, a decision on Miguel Arias Canete, the Spanish centre-right candidate for the energy commissioner post, has also been postponed on the initiative of the leftist groups.

The delaying or 'hostage taking' tactics are widely seen as a strategy by the the EPP and Socialist groups to ensure that candidates from their political family are not blocked by the opposing factions.

Juncker's economic balancing act

Even Jean-Claude Juncker’s critics would agree that the new Commission president is a skilled deal-maker.

MEPs ask Moscovici about French deficit

MEPs gave French commissioner Moscovici a Tuesday deadline for extra questions on EU fiscal rules amid reports Brussels is to reject France's new budget.

News in Brief

  1. Salvini questions EU 'constraints' after bridge collapse
  2. Bosnian Serbs to rewrite 1995 Srebrenica genocide report
  3. Malta to allow Aquarius migrants to disembark
  4. Juncker sends condolences over Genoa bridge collapse
  5. EU pledges €500,000 more for Indonesian earthquake island
  6. EU commission in talks with states on new Aquarius migrants
  7. Man held after car crashes into UK parliament security barrier
  8. Brexit delays better readability of medicines' instructions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  2. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate
  3. EU court to hear citizens' climate case against EU
  4. How long can Bulgaria keep facing both East and West?
  5. EU commission steps up legal case against Poland
  6. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  7. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass
  8. What Salvini teaches us about Operation Sophia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us