Thursday

25th Aug 2016

Focus

German TV duel gives flavour of EU grand coalition

  • Schulz (l) and Juncker (r) disagreed on few points (Photo: ZDF)

It seemed like a gathering of old friends. Jean-Claude Juncker from the centre-right European People's Party and Martin Schulz from the Social-Democrats are both pro-European, both from the same generation and both represent parties that are likely to form a grand coalition after the EU elections.

On their first German-speaking TV duel on Thursday evening (8 May), broadcast on German and Austrian public TV, the two "Spitzenkandidaten" had few disagreements.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Schulz accused Juncker of representing a Europe of "leaders meeting behind closed doors, in dark rooms" who then take decisions that are communicated to their "underlings".

"I am not for this kind of Europe," said the German politician, currently head of the European Parliament.

"I got to know Martin Schulz in a dark room behind closed doors," Juncker retorted, in reference to the European Council meetings where the head of the European Parliament takes part in some meetings.

Juncker – a Luxembourg politician who was the longest-serving Prime Minister in the EU until last year – quipped about his age and his ambition to become head of the EU commission, "because I've already been head of a government".

"I want to set one thing straight – I am 59, not 60," he said.

"But you look like 60," retorted Schulz, who is 58.

Juncker also joked about "bleached chicken" - a German consumer protection concern linked to the EU-US free trade negotiations. When asked if he would allow for bleached chicken to be imported, Juncker replied: "No. The chickens don't want it, either."

A surprise answer came on the issue of the single seat of the European Parliament. Juncker said he is in favour of keeping the status quo, with the monthly commute from Brussels to Strasbourg. "France would never agree to give up the Strasbourg seat. It's like the God question in Catechism, you don't ask it."

Schulz was asked about his former party boss and ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who celebrated his 70th birthday in the company of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Schulz replied that he "doesn't always agree with Schroeder on Russia", but claimed that in this case, the former chancellor used his influence for the release of four German hostages held by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

A survey carried out by Stern shows that 41 percent of Germans would like Schulz to become the next commission president, while only 24 percent would favour Juncker.

The two parties they represent are likely to form a grand coalition after the EU elections in order to be able to pass legislation through the Parliament.

Currently, the EPP can form a majority only with the Liberals, who sometimes form a leftist majority with Social-Democrats and the Greens. But since all big groups are set to lose seats and eurosceptic and far-right parties are to make an entry in the next legislature, a grand coalition is seen as the most likely outcome.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  2. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  3. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  4. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  5. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  6. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  7. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  8. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  9. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  10. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey
  11. GoogleA Little Bird Told us to Start Tweeting About Google’s Work Across Europe. Learn More @GoogleBrussels
  12. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?

Latest News

  1. Italy earthquake is test for Renzi
  2. Let's fix EU copyright law, for innovation and creativity online
  3. French government tries to defuse burkini row
  4. EU to Turkey: Do you really want to join?
  5. US slams EU competition policies
  6. French diesel committee 'did not cover up for Renault'
  7. EU backs Greek ex-data chief over criminal charges
  8. EU must step up migrant relocation, say Italy and Greece