Friday

6th May 2016

Juncker emerges as centre-right's top EU candidate

Former Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker is emerging as the top candidate for the centre-right European People's Party in the upcoming EU elections, amid positive signals from Berlin.

German newspaper Welt am Sonntag on Sunday (2 February) reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel has given her backing to the former Luxembourg Prime Minister and long-time EU figure.

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.

  • Merkel and Juncker have had their ups and downs (Photo: President of the European Council)

This is contrary to previous reports suggesting she would favour a different candidate.

Juncker headed the eurogroup of finance ministers from its inception in 2004 until 2013 and was the longest serving prime minister in Europe until last December, when a new government was formed in Luxembourg.

A source within the European People's Party told this website on Monday that Merkel never "really rejected" Juncker.

"He is the frontrunner, he poses no problem to Merkel in the runup to the EU elections. The question is, will she back him afterwards," the source said.

A spokeswoman for Merkel told this website on Monday that the chancellor "sticks to the agreed calendar" - meaning that the official top candidate for the EPP will be announced in March at a party congress in Dublin.

"Until then, the chancellor will not engage in any speculations about the personnel," the spokeswoman said.

But even if Juncker secures the EPP nomination in March, there is no guarantee that he will get the job.

In a twist of irony, Juncker may fall victim to the very "secret, dark debates" he once said he favours for reaching deals on sensitive EU matters.

Merkel, unlike other EU politicians who want to use a novelty in the Lisbon Treaty allowing parties to put forward lead candidates for the EU commission, has already suggested there will be no automaticity for the candidate of the winning party to become head of the EU executive.

In previous years, the head of the EU commission was always selected as part of a package deal with the EU council chief and the foreign affairs tsar. The heads of Nato and the European Parliament also play a role in the overall deal, which has to take into account gender, geography and political colour.

Prime Ministers who are potential candidates - Ireland's Enda Kenny or Poland's Donald Tusk - have so far ruled out being interested in the job. But this is thought to be because it would leave them as lame-duck-leaders back home. And in the event the EPP does not emerge as winner in the EU elections, the lead candidate will go home empty-handed.

Another potential problem for Juncker is the fact that he is not an MEP and has also ruled out running for the European Parliament.

Almost all other parties have put forward MEPs as lead candidates: European Parliament chief Martin Schulz for the Social Democrats, former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt for the Liberals, France's antiglobalisation fighter Jose Bove and a young German MEP - Ska Keller - for the Greens.

Only the leftist group has put forward a politician who has not served in the European Parliament: Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppetiersBrexit Could Increase Support for Independence in Pro-EU Scotland
  2. European Music CouncilRegister Now for the 6th European Forum on Music in Wroclaw, European Capital of Culture 2016
  3. Belgrade Security ForumJoin Our Team for the 6th Belgrade Security Forum. Apply Now! Deadline May 20
  4. European Roundtable of IndustrialistsCompanies Make Progress on Number of Women in Leadership Roles
  5. Counter BalanceParliament Gets Tough on Control EU Bank's Funds
  6. ICRCSyria: Aleppo on the Brink of Humanitarian Disaster
  7. CESIWorld Day For Health and Safety at Work: Public Sector Workers in The Focus
  8. EFABasque Peace Process-Arnaldo Otegi Visits the European Parliament
  9. EscardioChina Pays Price of Western Lifestyle With Soaring Childhood Obesity
  10. Centre Maurits CoppetiersThe Existence of a State is a Question of Fact, Not a Question of Law
  11. ICRCSyria: Aid for Over 120,000 People Arrives in Besieged Town Near Homs