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MEPs vote down Macron's European Commission candidate

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European Parliament lawmakers on Thursday voted overwhelmingly against approving the candidacy of Sylvie Goulard, French President Emmanuel Macron's choice to join the European Commission as a top official.

[BRUSSELS] European Parliament lawmakers on Thursday voted overwhelmingly against approving the candidacy of Sylvie Goulard, French President Emmanuel Macron's choice to join the European Commission as a top official.

Ms Goulard, who faced two tense hearings by MEPs amid doubts over a series of scandals, obtained 82 votes against 29 in favour and one abstention, several parliamentary sources told the AFP.

The rejection, which needs to be formally confirmed by senior MEPs, is a major blow for Mr Macron, who had made gaining influence in the EU a key priority.

Ms Goulard is the third commissioner to be rejected by the European Parliament, after MEPs also sent picks from Hungary and Romania packing.

A former MEP, Goulard resigned in June 2017 from her post as France's defence minister after being questioned by investigators in a ghost jobs scandal involving an assistant at European Parliament.

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The EU Anti-Fraud Office has also opened an investigation into the same case.

Both proceedings are ongoing, but Ms Goulard has not been charged.

Questions were also raised about Ms Goulard's activities at the Berggruen Institute, a US based think tank founded by German-American billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

While she was an MEP, the institute paid her more than 10,000 euros(S$15,187) a month from October 2013 to January 2016, raising the ire of her colleagues.

"I'm clean," a frustrated Goulard protested at her first audition earlier this month in response to questions from MEPs about the ethics of her position.

AFP

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