France has proposed Atos technology group Chief Executive Officer Thierry Breton as its candidate to head industrial policy in the next European Commission, President Emmanuel Macron’s office said, two weeks after his first choice was rejected by EU lawmakers.
Breton, who was France’s finance minister under late President Jacques Chirac, has been chief executive of Atos since 2009.
“He’s man of action, who knows industrial issues inside out, and who, while knowing Brussels institutions, will not have a bureaucratic approach to European issues, which is important for the president,” an Elysee official said.
Earlier this month, European lawmaker rejected Sylvie Goulard, Macron’s initial pick for European Commissioner, causing anger in Paris where officials blamed German conservatives in the EU parliament.
The French leader, who is keen to preserve the huge portfolio he had negotiated with incoming European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, is looking to put behind what he called a “political crisis” and has sought assurances from her the new candidate would be approved.
“The portfolio will remain unchanged,” the presidential aide said.
Each EU member state nominates a candidate for the Commission who must then pass a confirmation hearing in the European Parliament.
Despite his conservative background, Breton backed Macron during the 2017 campaign before even the first round of the presidential election.
Unlike many top French officials, he is not a graduate of the ENA finishing school of government, but holds a masters of engineering from top French school Supelec.