European Commission

Why new Omicron variant highlights the urgent need to lift vaccine patents

International — Investigation

The emergence of the new variant of Covid-19 called Omicron should serve as a wakeup call to rich countries that unless the whole world is given access to vaccines the pandemic is doomed to continue. Instead, the new variant was given as the reason why a key meeting at the World Trade Organisation to debate the temporary lifting of intellectual property rights on vaccines was postponed indefinitely. Rozenn Le Saint reports on the anger of French activists at the lack of progress on what they see as a key issue in tacking the pandemic in poorer countries.

Macron seething as MEPs reject France's EU commission candidate

International — Link

Members of the European Parliament have voted overwhelmingly to reject France's candidate for a top post at the European Commission amid doubts over the probity of Sylvie Goulard, implicated in an investigation into ghost jobs at the parliament and her links with a US think-tank, prompting Emmanuel Macron to denounce 'petty' political manoeuvring.

This shameful Europe

International — Opinion

The newly appointed European Commission, whose members take up their posts on November 1st, is to include a vice-president responsible for migration and home affairs with the title of “Protecting our European Way of Life”. Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel argues here that this semantic choice is a shameful concession to the continent’s far-right, whereby issues of identity have overturned social demands.

Counting the cost of Europe's 'Eurocrats'

International — Investigation

A communist candidate in the forthcoming European Parliament elections in France recently called for Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's salary to be drastically reduced. At the same time Mediapart has examined the high levels of pay and other benefits enjoyed by the civil servants who work in the Brussels-based bureaucracy. In all some 60,000 or so officials work for the EU, a number of whom have told Mediapart that their salaries are justified. Quentin Ariès reports.

Juncker and MEPs face off in cronyism row over choice of Europe’s top civil servant


The highly questionable circumstances of the appointment of German conservative Martin Selmayr as secretary-general of the European Commission, a move initiated by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for whom Selmayr until then served as chief of staff, has been met with outrage within the European Parliament, which on Wednesday adopted a motion describing the promotion as “coup-like” and “which possibly even overstretched the limits of the law”. But it pulled back from demanding Selmayr’s resignation, thereby avoiding a serious institutional crisis. Meanwhile, the commission, accused of blatant cronyism, has refused to compromise and insists Europe’s new top civil servant will remain in the post. Mediapart Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.      

Private jets and posh hotels: how EU commissioners spent 500,000 euros in two months


European Union commissioners spent nearly 500,000 euros on travel expenses in just two months in 2016, including 75,000 euros on a trip to Azerbaijan and Armenia by the EU’s foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini and 27,000 euros on a round trip to Rome by Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. The partial details on commissioners’ spending were released only after a lengthy campaign by a Spanish rights organization which is demanding that their expenses be systematically posted online, which the Commission is refusing to do. Mediapart’s Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.

Lifting the lid on the secret EU 'trialogues' where laws are decided behind closed doors

International — Investigation

When the European Union finalises legislation adopted by its executive body, the European Commission, the definitive texts of the directives are thrashed out in secret, closed-door meetings known as “trialogues”, unknown to the general public, where no minutes are kept. The trialogues – sometimes called trilogues – bring together, and without democratic control, representatives from the EU’s three major institutions: the Commission, the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. Mediapart's Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant reports.

EU probes tax deals granted by Luxembourg to French utility Engie

International — Link

The European Commission said the utility giant, formerly called GDF Suez, may have received significant tax breaks that gave it and unfair advantage over other companies and in breach of EU state aid rules.

EU staff aim to punish ex-boss Barroso over Goldman job


The recent decision by former European Commission president José Manuel Barroso to join Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs as an advisor caused outrage across much of Europe. Apart from, that is, at the heart of the Brussels institution itself where Barroso's successor Jean-Claude Juncker has only just, and grudgingly, criticised the move. However, disgruntled EU staff feel Barroso's appointment further tarnishes the EU's image and are examining ways to sanction their former boss. Ludovic Lamant reports.

French PM calls on Brussels to increase support for farmers

International — Link

Amid increasing protests by French farmers Manuel Valls says EU has 'done too little, too late' in response to downturn in agricultural markets.

EU orders France to recover 1.4 bln euros in state aid given to EDF

International — Link

The European Commission said France failed to charge all corporation tax owed by state-owned utilities giant in 1997, adding interest to the sum due.

EU grants France two-year delay on deficit targets

International — Link

In a third reprieve obtained by Paris, the European Commission has allowed France until 2017 to bring its public deficit to under 3% of GDP.

European Commission calls France to account over contested dam plan

International — Link

The EU said the Sivens dam project, an opponent of which was killed in a protest last month, was 'a suspected violation' of its water directive.

Exclusive: Brussels summons France to explain why it will ignore budgetary targets


In a letter addressed earlier this week to French finance minister Michel Sapin and to which Mediapart has gained access, the European Commission’s vice-president Jyrki Katainen, responsible for economic and monetary affairs, demands to know “why France plans to deviate from the budgetary targets” set by the European Council and “how France could ensure full compliance with its budgetary policy obligations”.  President François Hollande has refused to make public the letter, which he described as “of no great significance”, and which Mediapart exclusively publishes in full in this report by our Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant.

France 'sure' that EC will approve its under-target 2015 budget plan

International — Link

French economy minister said he is 'totally sure' of commission's approval, even though budget deficit targets would not be met before 2017.