Commissioner-designate Thierry Breton is not fit for office, Left MEPs conclude after a disappointing hearing today. The former CEO of Atos, and France’s second nominee after Parliament rejected Sylvie Goulard, will be in charge of a portfolio that largely overlaps with the areas of operation of his previous job.
Breton failed to assuage MEP fears about conflicts of interest.
The Commission’s Code of Conduct requires a two-year “cooling off” period when Commissioners leave their post yet no such requirement is being asked of Breton in reverse, fuelling accusations of revolving doors.
MEP Manuel Bompard (France Insoumise, France) spelled out what a Breton Commission would mean if the rules were followed.
“Atos received EU money and is a dominant player in the digital market, so Breton should recuse himself entirely from decisions related to digital issues. Atos has helped set up a highly questionable tobacco traceability system for the benefit of tobacco companies, so Breton should recuse himself from the revision of the tobacco directive. Atos manages access to the data of the EU’s Copernicus programme, so Breton should recuse himself from decisions related to the space programme,” said Bompard.
“In sum, his conflicts of interest would prevent him from delivering on his own portfolio. Unless he wants a fictitious job as France’s Commissioner, he should not become one.”
“The biggest problem with Mr. Breton is his obvious conflicts of interest,” added MEP Kateřina Konečná (KSČM, Czech Republic) echoed these concerns.
“Someone who has worked for a company that is a direct beneficiary of numerous EU programmes should not be responsible for decisions about the allocation of these resources. Especially not in the field of EU defence and security,” she concluded.