Wednesday

21st Apr 2021

EU states at odds over Juncker

  • Jean-Claude Juncker is causing a bit of stir among EU leaders (Photo: consilium.europa.au)

Jean-Claude Juncker may have been endorsed by Germany for the European Commission top job, but Italy and France have signalled opposition, while Britain has warned about the consequences of choosing the former Luxembourg PM for the post.

A British official on Sunday (1 June) confirmed to Reuters that British PM David Cameron at an EU summit last week told fellow leaders that Juncker was not the right person for the job and that if he is picked, it will be more likely that Britons would vote to leave the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The official however dismissed reports that Cameron threatened to bring forward a referendum on Britain's EU membership if Juncker became commission President.

German magazine Der Spiegel the same day had reported that Cameron told fellow leaders his government would be destabilised to such an extent if Juncker is picked, that the referendum planned for 2017 would need to take place sooner and that Brits would likely vote to leave the EU.

Der Spiegel also reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel at that same summit opposed Juncker being appointed as the negotiator with member states and the European Parliament, and that she preferred EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy to do the job instead.

On Friday, however, Merkel gave Juncker her strongest endorsement so far, saying that she is "now conducting all of my talks in the spirit that Jean-Claude Juncker should become president of the European Commission."

But Cameron is not alone in his anti-Juncker stance. Sweden and Hungary have already spoken openly against him.

And on Sunday, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Juncker has no automatic right to the post.

"Juncker is 'one' name for the Commission, but he is not 'the' name," Renzi said during an economic conference in Trento.

Renzi, who is a Social Democrat, is not part of the European People's Party which put Juncker forward as top candidate for the EU elections.

Another centre-left leader, France's Francois Hollande, is also reportedly against Juncker.

German mass-selling tabloid Bild am Sonntag reported that Hollande is trying to block Juncker and to get the post for his former finance minister, Pierre Moscovici.

Hollande's purported argument is that with the far-right National Front winning the EU elections in France, a signal of support for his government is badly needed.

For Juncker to get the nomination of EU leaders for the commission job, a 'qualified majority' is needed, where bigger states have a weightier vote. If Italy and France abstain or say No, while Britain, Sweden and Hungary vote No, Juncker does not have enough votes.

For his part, Juncker remains upbeat. He told Bild am Sonntag he is "optimistic about being chosen as the next Commission president by mid-July".

Being endorsed by EU leaders is only part of the process. He would then also need majority backing in the EP. The parliament is also due to vote again in autumn on the composition of the new EU commission, after conducting hearings of each commissioner candidate.

Merkel endorses Juncker after all

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave her first clear endorsement of Jean-Claude Juncker to become the next president of the EU commission, after criticism back home about EU leaders ignoring the democratic process.

EU leaders decline to endorse Juncker

Leaders have tasked Van Rompuy with exploring who could fill the EU top posts and get an EP majority, with consultations to last at least until the end of June.

EUobserved

Institutional fisticuffs

MEPs spent months and months carefully constructing a house of cards. EU leaders just blew the whole thing down with one dismissive puff.

Juncker 'will not kneel' before Brits

EU commission president-hopeful Jean-Claude Juncker has not given up on his bid for the post despite British opposition, but EU leaders are nowhere near an agreement on him.

Schinas spars with MEPs over migration job title

A number of MEPs pressed Margaritis Schinas to drop the "Protecting the European Way of Life" title of his portfolio, which deals with migration. But Schinas refused, claiming it needs protecting from terrorists and populists. He failed to convince.

Poland's 'vague' nominee flops in EU hearing

Poland's nominee for agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, is likely to face a second hearing after MEPs from top political groups lambasted his "vague" performance on Tuesday.

News in Brief

  1. European 'Super League' falls apart
  2. Concern growing Russia to recognise Ukraine 'republics'
  3. Spain withdraws judicial appointments reform
  4. Dozen EU countries confident of July adult-vaccination target
  5. EMA: Johnson & Johnson jab benefits outweigh risks
  6. Prague asks EU and Nato states to expel Russian diplomats
  7. Global CO2 energy-related emissions to rise 5% in 2021
  8. Ukraine: Russia 'will soon have 120,000 troops at border'

Parliament outmanoeuvred in EU top-post game

The European Parliament on Tuesday lost a years-long power struggle, and gave up winning more influence on European politics via the so-called Spitzenkandidat process it had championed.

Who is the new EU parliament president, David Sassoli?

The 63-year-old centre-left Italian MEP was elected president of the European Parliament, with 345 votes. A former journalist, Sassoli has experience as a vice-president of the parliament, but is little known.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. EU negotiators strike deal on climate 'law of laws'
  2. 'Dire' suffering continues in Ethiopia war, EU envoy says
  3. Study: EU 'largely lost leadership' on media freedom
  4. Facebook users in EU get more Covid disinformation than US
  5. EU sends vaccines to Balkans, in wake of China and Russia
  6. Biden's withdrawal and Afghan migration to EU
  7. Europeans are Russian pipeline addicts
  8. Czech leader downplays Russian bomb attack

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us