Friday

14th Aug 2020

Report: Berlin wants Juncker to resign as EU commission chief

  • A power struggle between EU states and the Commission has erupted (Photo: Bundesregierung)

Berlin is piling on pressure for European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to step down, according to the Sunday Times.

The newspaper reported that German chancellor Angela Merkel is unhappy with how Juncker handled the lead up to Britain's exit from the EU as well as his plans to take charge of its exit negotiations.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

An unnamed German minister told the paper that pressure for Juncker "to resign will only become greater and chancellor Merkel will eventually have to deal with this next year".

“Juncker has time and again acted against the common interest and his reaction to the British referendum has been very damaging,” said the source.

The tensions are, in part, rooted in who takes the lead in talks when the UK formally declares its departure by triggering article 50 of the EU treaty.

Both the EU states and the EU commission have been jockeying over the role.

Juncker had attempted to place his top adviser Martin Selmayr as chief negotiator in the talks but was outmanouevered when the EU Council created a Brexit task force led by Belgian diplomat Didier Seeuws.

The appointment is said to have outraged Selmayr, while a commission source told EUobserver that the Council was rushing to take the leading role over the commission.

Juncker is also pushing for a swift UK exit amid calls that delays will prolong uncertainty, while Merkel and some EU states want a more measured approach.

More Europe?

Such moves are part of a much larger debate following the UK referendum on how to reshape the future of the European Union in terms of rebalancing powers between Brussels and the EU capitals.

Juncker, along with EU parliament president Martin Schulz, are pushing for deeper EU integration.

Some see the idea as an effort to ween away power from the capitals, which could feed euroscepticsm however. Both Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble view "more Europe" as a form of intensified cooperation between states and not as a further transfer of power to Brussels.

Slovakia, which now heads the rotating EU presidency, also wants to roll back influence from Brussels and give EU states more say on issues like migration.

In mid-September, the remaining 27 member states will meet at a summit in Bratislava to discuss the future of the European Union.

The summit location in the Slovak capital is not without its own symbolic meaning - such events are typically held in Brussels.

Sturgeon meeting

Merkel has also reportedly said that Juncker has become "part of the problem" and that his recent meeting with Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon was provocative.

The majority of Scots had voted to remain in the EU. Sturgeon, within a week of the referendum results, was seen standing with Juncker in Brussels calling for independence.

Although Juncker said the EU commission had no intention to interfere with Scotland's desire to join the EU, he told reporters that it had "won the right to be heard in Brussels."

'Germany does not want Juncker to resign'

Elmar Brok, a senior german MEP, has denied reports that Berlin wanted the commission chief to go. But names of potential replacements - Schulz, Timmermans, Katainen - are doing the rounds.

EU to keep corporate sponsorship of presidencies

The chief administrators of the Council, representing member states, have issued draft guidelines on corporate sponsorships of EU presidencies. The guidelines do not ban sponsorships - despite the risks they pose to the EU's reputation as a whole.

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

News in Brief

  1. Amazon people urge EU banks to stop funding pollution
  2. Russia vaccine could be "dangerous", Germany says
  3. EU to finance new Covid-19 research projects
  4. Croatia receives EU earthquake relief funds
  5. Facemasks required throughout Brussels
  6. EU opposes Mexico's transparent junk food labels
  7. Greece accuses Turkey of 'escalation' in maritime dispute
  8. Slovakia expels three Russians linked to Berlin murder

Opinion

Why so few women in EU missions?

Angela Merkel is only the seventh woman to chair the Council of the European Union's meetings. And in 2020 there is no woman leading any of the current 11 European civilian missions (let alone the six military operations).

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Belarus violence goes on, as EU ministers scramble
  2. French navy to deter Turkey's oil and gas grab
  3. EU ministers urged to talk Belarus, Turkey sanctions
  4. Drums of war again, in Europe
  5. EU looks on as Belarus protests turn lethal
  6. EU virus-alert agency says new restrictions needed
  7. Minsk violence prompts talk of EU sanctions
  8. Schrems privacy ruling risks EU's ties to digital world

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us