French president Emmanuel Macron has nominated 64-year-old CEO Thierry Breton of the Atos group of companies as a candidate for a post in the European Commission. Macron initially nominated lawyer Sylvie Goulard as a candidate, but she was rejected by the European Parliament after a hearing.
Now the French president has nominated Thierry Breton, who has been in charge of the French ICT service provider since 2009, but is also involved in French politics. He was Minister of Economy in the period 2005-2007 under the reign of French President Jacques Chirac. He has also been a top executive of France Telecom and Thomson for a while.
Breton, if accepted by the European Parliament, becomes the successor of Elżbieta Bieńkowska. The Internal Market item covers not only industrial policy and economic cooperation (one EU market) and the stimulation of innovation, but also Defense (procurement) and Space travel (with the Galileo satellite program).
After rejecting his first candidate, President Macron was faced with the choice: stick to her nomination with the chance of a conflict with the European Parliament and with the new President Ursula von der Leyen, or stick to the economic-industrial portfolio envisaged by France. The latter was the deciding factor at Macron. He said that he had received an assurance from the Commissioner bvon der Leyen that the duties of the new French Commissioner would remain unchanged.
It is not known what the French tycoon Breton will do if he cannot hold that EU post if the European Parliament rejects him. A hearing about his candidacy is expected at the beginning of November. In ieder it is certain that he will not return as CEO of Atos. Breton has almost reached retirement age, in France that age is still a hard limit to retire.