25th Oct 2016


Merkel endorses Juncker after all

  • Merkel with Juncker (r) and her German top candidate McAllister (l) at a rally in Berlin (Photo: Jean Claude Juncker photostream)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday (30 May) 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.

Speaking at a Catholics' gathering in Regensburg, Merkel said that the centre-right European People's Party and its top candidate (Spitzenkandidat) Juncker came in first after last week's EU elections.

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.

"That is why I am now conducting all of my talks in the spirit that Jean-Claude Juncker should become

president of the European Commission," Merkel said.

She said it was her "credo" to find a joint solution that doesn't "alienate people".

"That doesn’t mean giving up your position, just that you take a deep breath and ask one more time what the others want and what reservations there are. Europe is very laborious," Merkel added.

This is the first time she has given such strong backing for Juncker. After an EU summit on Tuesday where leaders decided not to explicitly endorse the former Luxembourg leader, she there are "others" who could do the job just as well. She added there would be lengthy negotiations with member states and the European Parliament, which also need to take into consideration the other top posts.

Juncker was opposed even within the EPP party by the leaders of Sweden and Hungary, as well as outside the EPP group by Britain's David Cameron and the Netherland's Mark Rutte.

But a backlash from members of her own coalition triggered Merkel's u-turn.

Elmar Brok, a leading MEP from her own Christian-Democratic Union, told Sueddeutsche Zeitung that EU leaders should "be aware of the fact that the European Parliament will insist on imposing the will of the voters".

Merkel's coalition partner Sigmar Gabriel, head of the Social Democrats, said in an interview with Tagesspiegel that Europe is in such a "difficult situation" that it needs both Spitzenkandidaten - Juncker and Martin Schulz, top candidate of the Social-Democrats.

Gabriel was making reference to the success of far-right and anti-EU parties in the EU vote, a fact that is likely to push the centre-right EPP and the Social-Democrats to work closely together.

Gabriel said Schulz should be part of the next EU commission, indicating that the German MEP may get a prominent post if Juncker becomes commission chief.

In addition, the mass-selling tabloid Bild Zeitung on Friday ran an editorial by its publisher with the title "Juncker must become president".

"One thing is clear: Europeans want Juncker to become EU president. Schulz has the second-best result. A third person, someone who didn't stand for election, should not get the job. Otherwise democracy turns into a farce. Maybe that was possible in the [east German] DDR or in right-wing nationalist banana republics. But not in the EU," wrote Matthias Doepfner, the CEO of Axel Springer publishing house to which Bild belongs.

For Juncker to become commission president, he needs a 'qualified majority' of member states, with bigger countries having a greater say. The UK alone, even if backed by Sweden, the Netherlands and Hungary, would not have enough votes to block the move.

So far, Merkel has sought to find compromises which don't alienate London.

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. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  7. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  8. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  9. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  10. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  11. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersFish Skin on Bare Skin: Turning Fish Waste into Sustainable Fashion