After the rejection of Sylvie Goulard by the European Parliament, Emmanuel Macron proposed Thierry Breton as European Commissioner for the Inside Market. Given the resume of the character and the markets during which the corporate he was CEO, Atos, concerned, this selection raises critical questions.
On 12 November, the Strasbourg Parliament accredited in committee the candidacy of Thierry Breton for the put up of European Commissioner. At 12 votes to 11, the members of the Committee on Authorized Affairs thought-about that the profile of the previous French Minister of the Financial system, Thierry Breton, didn’t current conflicts of curiosity. The coaching engineer has thus handed this primary step of accuracy. Two weeks in the past, the European Parliament rejected the candidacy of Sylvie Goulard, a former Protection Minister implicated in a case of fictitious use of parliamentary assistants.
Free from any battle of curiosity, Thierry Breton, actually? If his candidacy is validated, the Frenchman proposed by Emmanuel Macron for the Inside Market portfolio will arrive straight on the Fee from his place as … CEO of a big firm. From 2008 to October 2019, Thierry Breton led the Atos group. The corporate supplies options in telecommunications and electronics, protection and aeronautics, in addition to administrative recordsdata. The French mega-file TES (for safe digital titles) which gathers the private and biometric information of the French for id playing cards or passports, it’s Atos.
The corporate can also be lively within the privatized social providers sector in the UK, the place its coverage of lowering social spending is very controversial (see article). Thierry Breton resigned from his place as Atos CEO final month with the prospect of turning into a European Commissioner, and waived his remuneration which was shut to six.1 million euros in 2017 (fastened wage, variable portion and compensation in shares ).
“If accredited, it can in all probability be the primary time a CEO will likely be chosen to affix the School of Commissioners”, reports the lobbying NGO in Brussels, Company Europe Observatory (CEO). “There’s a large overlap between the pursuits of the corporate run by Breton and the allocations of the home market portfolio that Macron has negotiated for him, together with industrial coverage, protection, know-how and aeronautics. This creates a maze of potential conflicts of curiosity that will likely be very troublesome to unravel “, says the NGO.
Atos, European grants and the “Fortress Europe” enterprise
Over time, Thierry Breton's firm has received quite a few European public contracts. In 2016, she is chosen, together with Accenture and Safran, for a Shengen visa utility processing info system market (1). In 2017, Atos is likely one of the firms chosen for the European challenge of automated border management system (2). In 2018, the European Fee nonetheless calls on Atos for 2 quantum computing improvement missions (3). So many tasks for which Atos receives European public cash.
“European establishments are an vital supply of funding for Atos”, summarizes the NGO CEO. For the yr 2018 alone, the French multinational has obtained greater than 106 million euros of funds from the European Fee and its businesses, the NGO has calculated (primarily based on figures from the European Union's monetary transparency service). out there right here). For 5G community improvement contracts, synthetic intelligence, cybersecurity, monetary safety tasks …
The sector of motion of the longer term commissioner: as many potential markets for Atos
The engagement letter addressed to Thierry Breton by the top of the European Fee Ursula von der Leyen explicitly designates within the subject of motion of the longer term commissioner the technological sectors of 5G, synthetic intelligence, cybersecurity … So many potential markets for Atos. “If Breton will get the portfolio of the home market, we are able to look forward to his former colleagues and their lobbies to attempt to affect him, in addition to his cupboard”, CEO alert. The idea appears all of the extra legitimate since within the final European legislature, Atos obtained more than 20 appointments lobbying with senior officers of the European Fee.
A subsidiary that helps authoritarian regimes to observe opponents
Atos additionally drags some pans. One in every of its subsidiaries, Amesys, was accused of promoting software program to authoritarian regimes reminiscent of Gaddafi's Libya or the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia to observe opponents. Final September, the Anticor affiliation filed a new complaint (after a primary in 2015) towards X, with civil occasion, for the offense of favoritism and unlawful taking of curiosity within the award of public contracts for automated radars. Atos, and its CEO, are not directly focused.
Price-Killer at France Telecom
Earlier than taking on his duties as CEO of Atos, Thierry Breton was Minister of the Financial system and Finance, from 2005 to 2007. Beforehand, he led France Telecom, future Orange, privatization, from 2002 to 2005. It’s he and his “cost-killers” who’re getting ready the brutal restructuring to return. A restructuring that has led to an enormous social disaster within the firm, and dozens of suicides. A report for which his successor on the head of France Telecom, Didier Lombard, and his assistants, have been tried for ethical harassment final spring.
Thierry Breton can also be «Board member of Carrefour, Financial institution of America and Sonatel (a communication firm primarily based in Senegal)», says CEO. The previous CEO assured that he bought his Atos shares, and withdrew from any monetary administration choice that straight impacts the corporate or any of its entities. For CEO, it's not sufficient. “The chance of privileged entry and affect in favor of Atos persists”, says the NGO. “For some, Breton's expertise within the non-public sector is constructive. However the position of a commissioner and to defend the overall curiosity, not the curiosity of the trade “, defends CEO.
Photograph : CC Copyleft.