The European Union's incoming economics chief vows to be an impartial and tough enforcer of the bloc's budget and deficit rules even though he failed to implement them as French Finance Minister.

Pierre Moscovici told lawmakers in a confirmation hearing in Brussels Thursday he will be a "scrupulous guard of our rules" and not the "ambassador of one country."

France has fallen behind several deadlines to bring its budget deficit under the EU-mandated ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product.

The French nomination of center-left politician Moscovici has attracted sharp criticism from conservatives and deficit hawks, who say he cannot be trusted with enforcing rules he helped flout just months ago.

The EU's new executive Commission, taking over in November, needs parliamentary approval, but lawmakers cannot veto specific commissioners.