Friday

14th May 2021

Cameron mends ties with Juncker

British PM David Cameron has reached out to Jean-Claude Juncker, after having failed to prevent his nomination as European Commission chief.

Cameron on Sunday (29 June) phoned the former Luxembourg leader to congratulate him on the upcoming job.

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

"They discussed how they would work together to make the EU more competitive and more flexible. The prime minister welcomed Juncker's commitment of finding a fair deal for Britain, and Juncker said that he was fully committed to finding solutions for the political concerns of the UK," a spokeswoman for Cameron told press in London.

Cameron needs to mend ties with Juncker in order to secure a decent EU commissioner portfolio, as member states have now begun the horsetrading for key posts in the new EU commission.

Some EU diplomats already quip that UK will get "multilingualism" – a portfolio created in 2007 for Romania after it failed to send a proper candidate in the first run.

The UK leader has come under criticism at home for his attempts to block Juncker during last week's EU summit where he triggered an unprecedented vote but failed to gather the required blocking minority.

"I think this weekend was a catastrophe for Britain and the British national interest. I've never seen a negotiation so cack-handed," opposition Labour MP Ed Balls said Sunday on BBC.

With British MPs on Monday to grill him on the matter, Cameron wrote in the Telegraph that he strongly believed that the "important principle" of not letting the European Parliament "dictate" who to choose as commission president was at stake.

"It was important to stand up for it – even if it meant being isolated, because sometimes it is possible to be isolated and to be right," Cameron wrote.

"Of course, the result did not go our way. Jean-Claude Juncker has been nominated as the next president of the European commission, and we will now work with him," he added.

Cameron said he "inherited" the voting system – by qualified majority – from the previous government and rejected criticism that he failed to gather enough allies for a veto. Only Hungary voted against Juncker alongside Britain.

He also said it would be a "wrong conclusion" to say that this is a "fatal blow" to his attempts to renegotiate Britain's terms of EU membership before putting it to a referendum.

"I do not deny that it has made the task harder and the stakes higher. But it is not in our nature as a country to give up," Cameron wrote.

A weekend poll published by the Mail on Sunday showed that 47 percent of Britons want to leave the EU, while 39 percent want to remain in the bloc.

Meanwhile, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the Financial Times on Sunday that Berlin would do everything it can to keep the UK in the EU.

"The EU without the UK is absolutely not acceptable, unimaginable. Therefore we have to do everything so that the interests and the positions of the UK find themselves sufficiently in European politics," Schaeuble said.

Germany was key in Cameron's miscalculation of the Juncker nomination. Chancellor Merkel was first hesitant about the Luxembourg politician, but then outright backed him when domestic public opinion turned against her.

Who is Jean-Claude Juncker?

From prodigy politician in Luxembourg to master of deception as Eurogroup chair, Jean-Claude Juncker brings both experience and baggage with his nomination as EU commission president.

Opinion

Juncker: The right man for the job?

Tackling tax havens and tax avoidance must be a core priority. Jean-Claude Juncker, as European Commission president nominee, needs to be clear how he plans to address this.

Juncker wants 'fair deal' for Britain

Future EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has denied being a federalist and said he wants a "fair deal" for Britain on the terms of its EU membership.

News in Brief

  1. No EUobserver newsletter on Friday 14 May
  2. Germany stops Facebook gathering WhatsApp data
  3. Italy rebuts reports of EU deal with Libya
  4. MEPs demand EU states protect women's reproductive rights
  5. At least nine dead in Russia school shooting
  6. Bulgaria interim government appointed until July election
  7. German priests defy pope to bless same-sex couples
  8. New EU public prosecutor faults Slovenia

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 MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU aims at 'zero pollution' in air, water and soil by 2050
  2. French police arrest Luxembourg former top spy
  3. Vaccine drives spur better-than-expected EU economic recovery
  4. Slovenia causing headaches for new EU anti-graft office
  5. 'No place to hide' in Gaza, as fighting escalates
  6. EU chases 90m AstraZeneca vaccines in fresh legal battle
  7. Fidesz MEP oversees FOI appeals on disgraced Fidesz MEP
  8. Belgium outlines summer Covid relaxation plans

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us