Wednesday

17th Jul 2019

Juncker: Economics commissioner will be a Socialist

  • The stability pact will not become a flexibility pact, says Juncker (r) (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Future EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday (8 July) promised that the economic affairs commissioner post will go to a Socialist, as part of a grand coalition-type bargain between the centre-right and centre-left.

He made the committment before MEPs from the centre-left S&D group, whose support he needs to secure his appointment as head of the EU executive in a parliament vote next week.

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

In his opening speech, he emphasised several issues dear to the Socialists' hearts. He said he favours "equal pay for equal work", a minimum wage across Europe - if not harmonised then at least as a "recommendation" - as well as a eurozone budget and "flexibility" when applying deficit and debt rules.

"The stability pact will not become a flexibility pact, but we will use the flexibility within the pact. And a Socialist will be in charge of this dossier," Juncker said, in reference to the influential economics commissioner. Until now the post was held by Finland's Olli Rehn, a fiscal hawk.

In a later hearing with the Liberals, Juncker paid tribute to Rehn (also a Liberal) for his work "on the rim of the abyss" during the euro crisis.

Many candidates for economics post

France's former finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, is a possibility for the job. So is Juncker's successor at the helm of the Eurogroup, Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Both are Socialists, but an EU source told this website that about a dozen other countries have sent in names for the post, of which about two-thirds are Socialists.

Juncker also made a commitment to have a "fundamental rights" commissioner and pledged more solidarity with southern countries which have to cope with irregular migration.

"Problems with illegal migration are not just national problems, they are a problem for the EU as a whole. We need more north-south solidarity," Juncker said, noting that the budget for the EU border agency, Frontex - €80 million a year - is "ridiculous".

He said he was the "first candidate" to have promised Britain a "fair deal" about its membership in the EU, but also noted that this doesn't mean all British demands will be accomodated.

Schulz moment

An impromptu speech by Juncker's main rival for the job ahead of the EU elections, Martin Schulz, who was just re-elected European Parliament president, gave a flavour of the Socialist demands in return for a Yes vote next week.

"You are not president of the EU commission yet. You are applying for a mandate to form this commission. Our colleague said you are the council's man. From now on, you are the Parliament's man," he said in German and using the informal address ("du").

Schulz said he supports Juncker because he wants to see the new system put in place by which EU parties' top candidates (Spitzenkandidaten) become commission presidents.

"I want one day that post to be filled by a Social Democrat. That's why it's about imposing this principle. I want you to get a broad majority in the Parliament on Tuesday," he said.

Meanwhile, the secretary general of the parliament, Klaus Welle, at a public event in Brussels said that the link between the EU parliament and the commission "will be different than in the past."

“We don’t know exactly how but one thing is for sure: we can expect much, much closer co-operation between the commission president and the parliamentary majority, which brought him into office," Welle said.

A fundamental change

“That relation has fundamentally changed and it is clear this relationship will not just be a technical relationship but a political relationship. It is absolutely possible that there will be a political project which unites the parliamentary majority carrying the European Commission and the President of the European Commission," he added.

A novelty in the EU treaty involves the European Parliament in approving the European Commission's five-year work programme. EU leaders at a summit last week also laid out their own expectations and priorities for the coming years.

Juncker will have to have to table the programme ahead of the 15 July vote.

Opinion

Juncker: The right man for the job?

Tackling tax havens and tax avoidance must be a core priority. Jean-Claude Juncker, as European Commission president nominee, needs to be clear how he plans to address this.

Who is Jean-Claude Juncker?

From prodigy politician in Luxembourg to master of deception as Eurogroup chair, Jean-Claude Juncker brings both experience and baggage with his nomination as EU commission president.

Juncker wants 'fair deal' for Britain

Future EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has denied being a federalist and said he wants a "fair deal" for Britain on the terms of its EU membership.

Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency

Appalled over Coca-Cola sponsoring the recent Romanian EU presidency, MEPs have asked Finland, the new holders of the rotating post, to put an end to such practices. But Helsinki, whose presidency is sponsored by BMW, has no such plan.

EU commission has first-ever woman president

Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday obtained a narrow majority of support in the European Parliament to become the first-ever female president of the European Commission.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  2. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?
  3. Is Golden Dawn's MEP head of a criminal organisation?
  4. Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency
  5. MH17 five years on: when will Russia be punished?
  6. EU commission has first-ever woman president
  7. Son: Malta trial for murdered journalist 'not enough'
  8. Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us