Saturday

23rd Feb 2019

Focus

Merkel seeks to square the circle on Juncker and UK

  • Angela Merkel does not want to isolate Britain over Juncker (Photo: Bundesregierung)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday (4 June) told the Bundestag she is trying to get enough leaders to back Jean-Claude Juncker for the EU commission presidency, but warned against isolating Britain.

"I am putting all my efforts - and so does the whole German government - to secure the appointment of Juncker as next commission president with a qualified majority in the council, as required by the EU treaty," she said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But she was critical of those who take Britain's opposition to Juncker too lightly.

British PM David Cameron at a summit last week warned that if Juncker was appointed, it would increase the chances of Britain saying no in an EU membership referendum.

"We know Britain's reservations. I don't share them, but it is coarse and negligent to say it doesn't matter if Britain approves or not, if Britain stays or leaves the EU. It is everything but indifferent," Merkel said.

She admitted Britain is "no easy partner", but said that Germany wants and needs Britain to be its partner in the EU, because they share the goal of making Europe more competitive.

"So I am talking to the UK in a European spirit, trying to find the best results possible for everyone. It is laborious and tiring, but thoroughness comes before speed," she said.

The chancellor also talked alot about what the EU's policy priorities should be. She highlighted jobs, growth, continued fiscal discipline, reducing energy dependency, switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy, rule of law and free trade.

Restructuring the commission

Meanwhile, thoughts are being formulated in Berlin on having the next EU commission reorganised in a way to reflect these priorities and give more weight to "cluster commissioners" seconded by junior commissioners, rather than spreading everything over 28 portfolios.

To prevent countries protesting that they are left with a junior post, one idea is to have a rotation system or to make clusters flexible, so that each country gets to have an important post at a certain point.

Berlin also wants to see the EU foreign foreign policy chief more integrated into the workings of the EU commission, since most of the money that can go to neighbourhood countries or development aid is in the commission, not in the EU diplomatic service.

Merkel's coalition partner, the Social Democrats, are pushing for Martin Schulz to become Germany's next EU commissioner in a senior post - perhaps even the double-hatted high representative for foreign policy, who is also vice-president of the EU commission.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife about France's plans.

On the one hand former finance minister Pierre Moscovici is gearing up for a top economics post in the EU commission.

On the other, Merkel has reportedly approached International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde for the EU commission top post in case Juncker does not get it.

But according to French media, French President Francois Hollade would rather have Juncker than Lagarde, who is not from his own political family.

Other possible commissioners are outgoing Belgian PM Elio di Rupo, Finland's Jyrki Katainen and Latvia's ex-PM Valdis Dombrovskis.

The European Parliament will hold hearings with all the commissioner candidates once the commission chief is appointed and then vote on the entire commission later this year.

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.

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.

Juncker opponents: Focus on reforms, not names

Failing to agree on Jean-Claude Juncker as next EU commission president, the leaders of Germany, Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands said it was important to focus on EU reforms rather than names.

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Tusk on Sunday at Arab summit
  2. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  3. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  4. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  5. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  6. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  7. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  8. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK
  2. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  3. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  4. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  5. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  6. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  7. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  8. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us