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Parliament rejection of French Commission candidate, ‘a major institutional crisis for Europe’

This picture taken on February 1, 2017 in Paris shows a journalist reading the February 1, 2017 issue of French satirical newspaper "Le Canard Enchaine", with a headline relating to French presidential election candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party Francois Fillon allegedly giving his wife fake jobs and reading "Francois Fillon protests in front of investigators: "But since I tell Penelope didn't do anything!"". Fillon on February 1 hit back at fresh claims he paid his family huge sums for doing "fake jobs", accusing the incumbent Socialist government of mounting what he called an "institutional coup d'etat". The scandal, which first erupted last week, is pulling down Fillon's campaign, with a new poll showing that the former PM, who for weeks was the frontrunner in the race, would now be eliminated in the first round of the election in April. The Canard Enchaine newspaper reported on February 1, 2017 that Fillon had arranged for his wife Penelope to be paid around 830,000 euros ($900,000) as a parliamentary aide for more than a decade. / AFP / CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Parliament’s refusal to approve Frenchwoman Sylvie Goulard’s candidature for a post at the European Commission represents “a major institutional crisis for Europe”, the French secretary of state for European affairs, Amélie de Montchalin, considered on Friday when interviewed on France-inter radio.

“It is, first of all, a major institutional crisis for Europe because, without a French commissioner, the commission cannot get started,” she pointed out. “It must be resolved calmly and without anger, but (the new Commission President) Ursula von der Leyen must tell us what she expects from France,” she added.

“The European dynamic is now in Ursula von der Leyen’s hands. Three candidates were proposed to her, she chose from them the one who was rejected yesterday in the European Parliament,” de Montchalin pointed out during the same morning interview.

“A parliament is not a courtroom,” the minister commented, referring to one of the factors fuelling criticism in Europe directed at Sylvie Goulard: in other words, her presumed involvement in the MoDem parliamentary assistants case.

The day before, the French president had already voiced his lack of understanding with a certain bitterness at the rejection of his candidate. “I was told ‘your name is fine, we’ll take it’ and then eventually told ‘we don’t want it anymore’. I require an explanation,” Emmanuel Macron riposted.

On Friday, Libération noted that other names had been considered over the summer for France’s Commission candidature, one of which was that of Secretary of State Amélie de Montchalin. Clément Beaune, the Elysée’s advisor for Europe, had also been mentioned.

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