Saturday

16th Dec 2017

Focus

Righteousness and a policy programme

  • Merkel and Cameron - both leaders are seeking a solution to the Juncker issue (Photo: gov.uk)

Oh My. It's a terrible thing when both sides are feeling righteous. And righteous in the name of 'democracy' to boot.

On the one hand there is the European Parliament claiming that the people have spoken and 'elected' Jean-Claude Juncker to be the next president of the European Commission.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

On the other side is a thundering British elite and press saying that EU democracy will only be saved by not picking Juncker as commission president.

The truth is, as ever, more nuanced.

The fact is the EU is in a conundrum. EU leaders went along with this nomination process not really thinking it would ever be taken seriously.

That's why the biggest political family, the centre-right EPP, chose Juncker to be their top candidate for the EU vote. He was uncontroversial, known and, they thought, not actually going to end up in the job.

He also, to his surprise, got swept up in the process. And found himself forced to campaign for the post – debates, campaign buses, posters and all.

So the EU finds itself faced with a dilemma.

Should it choose Juncker to give a solid foundation to the Spitzenkandidat race in 2019, or should it ditch him in favour of a fresher face – someone who would better reflect the result of last month's EU vote, which returned a thumbs down on the existing EU establishment.

Meanwhile the question, already difficult, has become thoroughly complicated by Britain's absolute insistence that Juncker is a no-go candidate. London even warned that his nomination would probably prompt an early referendum on the country's EU membership.

British papers have been waging a strong campaign against him to the extent that Juncker – in possibly a first for a former PM from a tiny EU state – made it onto the pages of Britain's formidable tabloid, the Sun. That paper's readership now knows him, in a caricature of hyperbolic writing, as the "most dangerous man in Europe".

But Germany has a formidable tabloid too.

Merkel – in a bid to accommodate London – cut Juncker loose at a summit last week, only to hastily bring him back into the fold after a testy article by the Bild's editor asking her to respect democracy.

In truth there is not much between the two views as far as the citizen is concerned.

EU voters by and large have no idea who Juncker is (although ironically, more surely know him now because of this spat) nor are they likely to know who a putative other candidate, negotiated in secret by EU leaders, is.

A way of restoring this 'situation' – and giving everyone a way out – would be to focus on a commission programme for the coming years.

Juncker should stand up with a thorough policy plan from now until 2019. If he is going to fall by the wayside, it should be because his programme is not good enough.

Not because of a pseudo-battle about 'democracy'.

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.

EUobserved

The European Parliament's institutional coup

Member state leaders have been backed into a corner. They have, as it were, been overtaken by the campaign bus; or outspoken at the TV debate. Yes, the European Parliament is in the process of staging a rather successful coup.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states