12.18.19

Gemini version available ♊︎

Understanding Thierry Breton: Emmanuel Macron and His “Joker” in Brussels

Posted in Europe at 5:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Overview

Understanding Thierry Breton

Epilogue will follow.


ING
ING was quick off the mark to place its seal of approval on Breton’s appointment

Summary: How did Breton return to the political arena after an absence of over 10 years and ended up as the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market?

Following initial approval by the screening committee of MEPs on 14 November 2019, Thierry Breton’s appointment as the new EU Commissioner for the Internal Market was finally confirmed at a plenary session of the European Parliament held on 27 November 2019.

Ursula's tweet
Breton’s appointment as a member of the new EU Commission was confirmed on 27 November 2019

Before the official confirmation had been announced, Julien Manceaux a senior economist with ING Bank was already singing Breton’s praises in an adulatory puff-piece published by the bank under the title “France to get super-portfolio in new EU Commission”.

ING not found

For some unknown reason, the puff piece has disappeared from the ING website but it can still be found via Google Cache and on other websites where it was republished.

“So how did he return to the political arena after an absence of over 10 years and ended up as the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market?”The sole opposition to Breton’s appointment in the European Parliament came from MEPs of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left bloc (GUE/NGL) who expressed concerns about his conflicts of interest. The MEPs who criticised his appointment took the position that he should not be placed in charge of a portfolio that has significant areas of overlap with his previous private sector activities as CEO of the French multinational Atos.

In an earlier part of this series, it was explained how Breton previously pursued a brief but eventful political career as Chirac’s entrepreneurial “joker” in Bercy between 2005 and 2007. So how did he return to the political arena after an absence of over 10 years and ended up as the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market? To understand this, it’s necessary to take another look at domestic politics in France and the rise of Breton’s current political sponsor, Emmanuel Macron.

To the uninformed Breton and Macron seem like improbable political bedfellows.

“To the uninformed Breton and Macron seem like improbable political bedfellows.”The former CEO at France Télécom served his political apprenticeship in the ranks of the centre-right UMP under the guiding hand of Jacques Chirac, a convicted felon, who received a two year suspended sentence in 2011 for “longstanding and reiterated practices” of illegal party financing during his time mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

According to media reports, Chirac was involved in channeling about € 2.2 million from the City of Paris to pay for at least 21 people who were employed in fake jobs on the city payroll while actually engaged in national party politics as he prepared to run for the presidency.

Chirac, Breton
Breton was the “teacher’s pet” of his mentor Jacques Chirac

Breton was the “teacher’s pet” among a number of prominent French political figures including, Nicolas Sarkozy and Christine Lagarde, who were mentored by “Oncle Jacques”.

At the beginning of his career, Sarkozy had very close ties to the Chirac clan. At one stage he was touted as a prospective son-in-law due to his rumoured liaison amoureuse with Chirac’s daughter Claude.

Sarko, Chirac
The youthful Sarkozy attending a tennis tournament
together with Papa Chirac and daughter Claude (1985)

But the ambitious understudy Sarkozy had plans of his own which eventually led to a political rift with his mentor.

It was on the opposite side of the bipartisan divide that Emmanuel Macron cut his political teeth. From 2006 to 2009, he was a member of the Socialist Party.

Hollande Flanby
François Hollande – nicknamed “Flanby” after Nestlé’s wobbly caramel pudding

Macron’s patron and mentor in the Socialist party was François Hollande, nicknamed “Flanby” after a brand of wobbly caramel pudding produced by Nestlé. Hollande’s public image as a vacillator and his perceived lack of resolve led to him being lampooned as “a living marshmallow”.

In May 2012. when Hollande defeated Sarkozy to become President of the Republic, he persuaded the Macron to join his team as a deputy secretary general, which gave the ambitious “boy wonder” a role as one of the President’s key advisers.

Hollande, Macron
Macron with his patron and mentor François Hollande

In August 2014, Macron was elevated to a cabinet position as Minister for the Economy and Industry where he championed a number of business-friendly reforms.

Two years later in August 2016, he resigned from the government to launch his own campaign for the 2017 presidential election under the banner of a new “centrist” political movement called En Marche! which he had founded in April 2016.

Macron as centrist
Ex-banker Macron reinvents himself as a new “centrist” demagogue

To those unfamiliar with the French political landscape, the reincarnation of the UMP-aligned Thierry Breton as Macron’s “joker” in Brussels has the appearance of a miraculous and inexplicable transformation. But as soon as one makes the effort to look beyond the façade of bipartisan politics in France the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fall into place and everything suddenly becomes much less mysterious.

What needs to be understood here is that, irrespective of whether their political roots are in the nominally “centre-right” UMP or in the nominally “centre-left” Socialist Party, all French Presidents are ultimately faithful and obedient servants of the plutocratic elite who call the shots behind the scenes.

ENA presidency
Énarques to a man – with the exception of Sarkozy.

With the exception of Nicolas Sarkozy, all Presidents of the postwar Fifth Republic have been graduates of the grandes écoles, a group of highly selective and elitist educational establishments that are separate to the main framework of the public university system.

“With the exception of Nicolas Sarkozy, all Presidents of the postwar Fifth Republic have been graduates of the grandes écoles…”Staring with Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who succeeded Georges Pompidou — and once again with the exception of Sarkozy — the office of President has been occupied since 1974 by an Énarque, as the graduates of the École Nationale d’Administration (ENA) are known.

The ENA was created in 1945 by French President, Charles de Gaulle, and the principal author of the French Constitution, Michel Debré, as part of a plan for the reform of the civil service in postwar France. The implementation of this plan was, to a large extent, entrusted to the Stalinist Maurice Thorez, leader of the French Communist Party (PCF) who served as Deputy Prime Minister from 1946 to 1947.

ENA and water
France’s ENA – a Stalinist-inspired finishing school for the technocratic elite

One of the remarkable ironies of the Fifth Republic is that the ENA was established with the aim of democratising access to the senior civil service in postwar France. However, it soon developed into the incubator of a new technocratic elite whose members form a tightly-knit network that suffers from an almost pathological level of groupthink.

The formation at the ENA leads to the forging of incestuous bonds between future political, administrative and business leaders, and these are reinforced as the Énarques circulate between these spheres of activity in the course of their careers thanks to the ubiquitous revolving doors linking the public and private sectors.

French presidents alongside
Sarkozy (UMP), Hollande (Socialist) flanking Macron (“Centrist”): “Gentlemen, if we continue walking in this direction I am confident that we will arrive at a revolving door in due course…”

The result is complete and utter “Énarchie” — the emergence of a veritable mafia-like entity that dominates political and business life and where loyalty to the “brotherhood” outweighs all other considerations including such trivial things as party political allegiances.

“The formation at the ENA leads to the forging of incestuous bonds between future political, administrative and business leaders, and these are reinforced as the Énarques circulate between these spheres of activity in the course of their careers thanks to the ubiquitous revolving doors linking the public and private sectors.”As Alain Madelin, Minister for Industry under Jacques Chirac, once put it: “Ireland has the IRA, Spain the ETA, Italy the Mafia, and France has the ENA.”

An illustrative example of the extreme fluidity of political boundaries in France can be found in the case of Bernard Tapie, businessman, occasional actor, singer, TV host and convicted corruptionist.

Tapie is associated with the Radical Party of the Left, a close ally of the main centre-left Socialist Party, and he briefly served as Minister for Urban Affairs under the Socialist President François Mitterand from December 1992 to March 1993.

“This kind of shenanigans is par for the course in the Machiavellian world of French politics.”However, during the 2007 presidential election, Tapie switched his political allegiance to UMP candidate Sarkozy. Tapie’s ideological U-turn was attributed to “tax issues” which Sarkozy reportedly promised to resolve if he were elected. Detail which subsequently emerged in court during the trial which led to the conviction of Christine Lagarde in 2016, indicate that Sarkozy kept his promise to Tapie.

This kind of shenanigans is par for the course in the Machiavellian world of French politics.

So when the new “centrist” movement set up by the Énarque Macron started to gain traction in 2016, various figures from different regions of the party political spectrum emerged from the wings to hitch their horses to his bandwagon as it started rolling across the French political landscape.

Macron sheet
A new political “star” is born… the unstoppable rise of Emmanuel Macron

For example, the former UMP President Sarkozy seized his chance for a come-back on Macron’s coat-tails. This led him to initiate a bizarre political courtship with the new kid on the block which slowly blossomed into a “strange bromance”.

Macron, Sarko
“Nice” to see you, to see you “Nice”…
Emmanuel and Nicolas bromancing at an official celebration in Nice (14 July 2017)

Sarkozy has been plagued by multiple scandals since losing his 2012 re-election bid. Amongst other things, he is reportedly under investigation or facing trial on various charges of corruption and influence peddling. However, none of that seems to bother Macron who sends him around the world on diplomatic missions at taxpayers’ expense to places as diverse as Georgia and Japan.

Just like his erstwhile cabinet colleague Sarkozy, Thierry Breton was another former UMP luminary who decided to put his money on the new rising star of the French political firmament.

On 12 April 2016 — less than a week after the inauguration of En Marche!” — the new “Sequana” supercomputer from Bull was unveiled by the Atos CEO in the presence of his VIP guest, who at the time still held the post of Minister for Economy and Finance.

Macron, Breton
“The hardware is awesome, all we need now is someone to take care of the software…”
“How about getting Benoît to do the job? I have heard the most wonderful stories about his achievements at the EPO.”

Fast forward to April 2018: less than a year into Macron’s presidency Thierry was beginning to reap the dividends for pursuing his “early adoption” strategy.

Macron, Trump
Emmanuel and “the Donald” at the White House in April 2018

To be more precise, the Atos CEO was selected to accompany the French President on a state visit to the good ol’ US of A in the context of a transatlantic charm offensive targeting “the Donald”. This provided the Atos CEO with a golden opportunity for some high-level corporate networking and a chance to promote his own proprietary brand of French “Bull”.

Breton tweet on Macron
Thierry promoting his own proprietary brand of French “Bull” in the USA

Thierry didn’t just enjoy “Breakfast in America” with Emmanuel. He also made it onto the exclusive guest list for the state dinner at the White House.

White House list
After a hard day’s networking, time to grab a nosebag at the White House…

Thierry was joined at the banquet table in no. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington D.C. by some familiar faces including… wait for it, folks… his old cabinet colleague, the IMF “killer-shark” Christine Lagarde and LVMH’s Lord of Luxury, the one-and-only Bernard Arnault.

Breton’s prominent role in Macron’s entourage during the US state visit in April 2018 is indicative of his privileged position in the French President’s “inner circle”.

“Breton’s prominent role in Macron’s entourage during the US state visit in April 2018 is indicative of his privileged position in the French President’s “inner circle”.”When Sylvie Goulard, Macron’s initial nominee for EU Commissioner, came a cropper after an intense grilling before the European Parliament in October of this year it was no real surprise to those in the know when the French President turned to his trusted friend, Atos CEO Thierry Breton, to help him out of a hole.

Initial speculation that Breton’s nomination might meet the same fate as that of Madame Goulard turned out to be unfounded and his place in the new EU Commission has now been officially rubber-stamped.

In the next part we will examine some high-level connections to the world of international finance which Macron and Breton have in common.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 7/12/2021: Plasma Mobile Gear 21.12 and Tails 4.25

    Links for the day



  2. All IRC Logs Now Available as GemText Over Gemini Protocol

    Today we've completed the transition from plain text over gemini:// to GemText over gemini:// for IRC logs



  3. IRC Proceedings: Monday, December 06, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, December 06, 2021



  4. [Meme] Rowing to the Bottom of the Ocean

    The EPO‘s Steve Rowan (VP1) is failing EPO staff and sort of “firing” workers during times of crisis (not at all a crisis to the EPO’s coffers)



  5. EPO Gradually Reduced to 'Fee Collection Agency' Which Eliminates Its Very Own Staff

    Mr. Redundancies and Mr. Cloud are outsourcing EPO jobs to Microsoft and Serco as if the EPO is an American corporation, providing no comfort to long-serving EPO staff



  6. Linux Foundation 2021 Annual Report Made on an Apple Mac Using Proprietary Software

    Yes, you’re reading this correctly. They still reject both “Linux” and “Open Source” (no dogfooding). This annual report is badly compressed; each page of the PDF is, on average, almost a megabyte in size (58.8 MB for a report of this scale is unreasonable and discriminates against people in countries with slow Internet connections); notice how they’re milking the brand in the first page (straight after the cover page, the 1991 ‘creation myth’, ignoring GNU); remember that this foundation is named after a trademark which is not even its own!



  7. Links 7/12/2021: OpenIndiana Hipster 2021.10 and AppStream 0.15

    Links for the day



  8. Microsoft “Defender” Pretender Attacks Random Software That Uses NSIS for installation; “Super Duper Secure Mode” for Edge is a Laugh

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  9. Links 6/12/2021: LibreOffice Maintenance Releases, Firefox 95 Finalised

    Links for the day



  10. “Wintel” “Secure” uEFI Firmware Used to Store Persistent Malware, and Security Theater Boot is Worthless

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  11. No Linux Foundation IRS Disclosures Since 2018

    The publicly-available records or IRS information about the Linux Foundation is suspiciously behind; compared to other organisations with a "tax-exempt" status the Linux Foundation is one year behind already



  12. Jim Zemlin Has Deleted All of His Tweets

    The Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin seems to have become rather publicity-shy (screenshots above are self-explanatory; latest snapshot), but years ago he could not contain his excitement about Microsoft, which he said was "loved" by what it was attacking. Days ago it became apparent that Microsoft’s patent troll is still attacking Linux with patents and Zemlin’s decision to appoint Microsoft as the At-Large Director (in effect bossing Linus Torvalds) at the ‘Linux’ Foundation’s Board of Directors is already backfiring. She not only gets her whole salary from Microsoft but also allegedly protects sexual predators who assault women… by hiring them despite repeated warnings; if the leadership of the ‘Linux’ Foundation protects sexual predators who strangle women (even paying them a salary and giving them management positions), how can the ‘Linux’ Foundation ever claim to represent inclusion and diversity?



  13. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IX — Microsoft's Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot Sought to be Arrested One Day After Techrights Article About Him

    Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley has warrant for his arrest, albeit only after a lot of harm and damage had already been done (to multiple people) and Microsoft started paying him



  14. The Committee on Patent Law (PLC) Informed About Overlooked Issues “Which Might Have a Bearing on the Validity of EPO Patents.”

    In a publication circulated or prepared last week the Central Staff Committee (CSC) of the EPO explains a situation never explored in so-called 'media' (the very little that's left of it)



  15. Links 6/12/2021: HowTos and Patents

    Links for the day



  16. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, December 05, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, December 05, 2021



  17. Gemini Space/Protocol: Taking IRC Logs to the Next Level

    Tonight we begin the migration to GemText for our daily IRC logs, having already made them available over gemini://



  18. Links 6/12/2021: Gnuastro 0.16 and Linux 5.16 RC4

    Links for the day



  19. Links 5/12/2021: Touchpad Gestures in XWayland

    Links for the day



  20. Society Needs to Take Back Computing, Data, and Networks

    Why GemText needs to become 'the new HTML' (but remain very simple) in order for cyberspace to be taken away from state-connected and military-funded corporations that spy on people and abuse society at large



  21. [Meme] Meanwhile in Austria...

    With lobbyists-led leadership one might be led to believe that a treaty strictly requiring ratification by the UK is somehow feasible (even if technically and legally it's moot already)



  22. The EPO's Web Site is a Parade of Endless Lies and Celebration of Gross Violations of the Law

    The EPO's noise site (formerly it had a "news" section, but it has not been honest for about a decade) is a torrent of lies, cover-up, and promotion of crimes; maybe the lies are obvious for everybody to see (at least EPO insiders), but nevertheless a rebuttal seems necessary



  23. The Letter EPO Management Does Not Want Applicants to See (or Respond to)

    A letter from the Munich Staff Committee at the EPO highlights the worrying extent of neglect of patent quality under Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos; the management of the EPO did not even bother replying to that letter (instead it was busy outsourcing the EPO to Microsoft)



  24. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, December 04, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, December 04, 2021



  25. EPO-Bribed IAM 'Media' Has Praised Quality, Which Even EPO Staff (Examiners) Does Not Praise

    It's easy to see something is terribly wrong when the people who do the actual work do not agree with the media's praise of their work (a praise motivated by a nefarious, alternate agenda)



  26. Tux Machines is 17.5 Years Old Today

    Tux Machines -- our 'sister site' for GNU/Linux news -- started in 2004. We're soon entering 2022.



  27. Approaching 100

    We'll soon have 100 files in Git; if that matters at all...



  28. Improving Gemini by Posting IRC Logs (and Scrollback) as GemText

    Our adoption of Gemini and of GemText increases; with nearly 100,000 page requests in the first 3 days of Decembe (over gemini://) it’s clear that the growing potential of the protocol is realised, hence the rapid growth too; Gemini is great for self-hosting, which is in turn essential when publishing suppressed and controversial information (subject to censorship through blackmail and other ‘creative’ means)



  29. Links 4/12/2021: IPFire 2.27 Core Update 162 and Genode OS Framework 21.11

    Links for the day



  30. Links 4/12/2021: Gedit Plans and More

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts