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France proposes central banker Goulard as European Commission candidate

FILE PHOTO - French Minister of the Armed Forces, Sylvie Goulard, leaves the Elysee Palace after a weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France, May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - France has proposed Sylvie Goulard, the deputy governor of the Bank of France and a former European lawmaker, as its candidate for European Union commissioner, President Emmanuel Macron’s office said on Wednesday.

Macron’s government is looking to clinch a top post in the EU Commission such as on trade or climate.

Goulard, a fluent English, German and Italian speaker, has strong European credentials. She was a member of a French Foreign Ministry legal team that worked on German reunification in 1989 and later served as former European Commission President Romano Prodi’s political adviser.

“We are at a crucial European moment. We need people with experience and vision to participate and take a lead role,” said an official from the president’s office, confirming what a diplomatic source had told Reuters earlier on Wednesday.

European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen is expected to name a new college of commissioners by Nov. 1. Each European country is vying for influential jobs.

A French official said on July 17 France was eyeing a “strong economic portfolio” in the new Commission, such as trade or one overseeing climate and energy policy.

The trade portfolio would prove a particularly tough job, coming at a time of heightened tension between the bloc and U.S. President Donald Trump, whose “America First” policy is challenging the EU’s free-trade push.

Macron had picked Goulard, 54, to be his defense minister after his 2017 election victory. However, she resigned barely a month into the job after an investigation was opened into the way her political party, MoDem, hired parliamentary assistants in the European parliament.

The inquiry continues but Goulard is not its main focus and she is not herself under formal investigation. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Lough and Alison Williams