The new French EU commissioner’s austerity 'bodyguards'


France’s Pierre Moscovici has been named as the new European Union commissioner for economic and monetary affairs in Brussels. At first glance it appears a clear-cut triumph for President François Hollande who has installed his former finance minister in a key economic post at the heart of the EU despite German opposition. It is also a sign that the new European Commission president Claude Juncker wants to display his independence from German chancellor Angela Merkel. But as Ludovic Lamant reports, Juncker has also shaken up the Commission's structure and placed two economic hawks alongside the French commissioner. Some observers believe their main role is to stop the French “social democrat” being too soft on member countries struggling to cut their deficits – and in particular France.

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On the face of it, it seems an undeniable French victory. Pierre Moscovici, the finance minister who was reshuffled out of the French government in April, has landed a huge portfolio at the heart of the European Commission under its president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker. The commissioner for economic and monetary affairs does not just handle economic and financial affairs but also looks after customs and tax. It is via this commissioner’s office that such decisive issues for the EU's future as economic stimulus policy, austerity, continent-wide tax harmonisation, the fight against tax havens and the tax on financial transactions all have to pass. It is, in effect, at least two commissioner posts rolled into one.