Paris is warming up to the ALDE candidate after Barnier announced he would vote for Les Républicains.
The competition commissioner is Brussels’s sweetheart. She is strong and resolute, she has contributed to revive the EU’s image by fining heavily America’s mega companies.
But Paris has never been an easy ride for Vestager . In France, she has always been suspected of being a bit too liberal, a bit too self-conscious, a bit too determined. In short, not enough French. When she blocked Alstom-Siemens merger this winter, neither Germany nor France could believe she had dared opposing them. Will she pay the cost of her much discussed independence ?
These last days, and now that an agreement has officially been found between central party ALDE and Renaissance, the Elysée seems to be warming up to her candidacy to head the Commission.
Having said that, Barnier is still the first choice .
“He is both EPP and centrist, he might be a bridge between political groups” a source at the Elysée said, while acknowledging that the French M. Brexit did not support Renaissance.
Michel Barnier has announced he would for for Les Républicains in France, and it’s a blow for all the support Paris has already invested in his potential candidacy at the head of the European Commission.
His vote looks like a weird choice considering the party is positioning itself on the right wing of the EPP group : Les Républicains are one of the last EPP member to defend Viktor Orban for example.
This choice nevertheless helped Vestager getting back in the race, from Paris view. After all she is (one of a few) Spitzenkandidaten in the ALDE political family. “She is from a country, Denmark, that is not in the eurozone, and it may be an issue, but not enough to disqualify her” an Elysée source said.
And she’s a woman. Much to the dismay of many, Donald Tusk recently said that “gender balance was difficult to achieve” for EU top jobs. It is obviously not so difficult.
Half of the EU, maybe more, is fed up with always having a male face at the head of the European Commission. The Spitzenkandidaten debate in Brussels on 15 May showed Ska Keller and Margrethe Vestager were both very capable and up to the task, rather more than the men they talked to. May the best woman win !