Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

Opinion

Juncker: The right man for the job?

  • MEPs must take their decision on whether Jean-Claude Juncker is the right man for the job based on his programme. (Photo: ZDF)

Now that the unseemly spectacle surrounding the nomination of Jean Claude Juncker as European Commission president candidate has passed, the legitimate question remains as to whether he is the right man for the job.

That is the question the European Parliament must answer on 15 July and that is what MEPs will try and determine this week in the hearings the different political groups are hosting with Juncker.

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

For the Greens, there should never have been a question about who EU governments should nominate as their candidate.

While it was far from perfect, to ignore the proto-democratic 'Spitzenkandidat' process, on which the European elections were contested, would only have served to further undermine the democratic legitimacy of the EU.

Juncker's election by the European Parliament cannot be a fait accompli, however.

This would be a mistake by MEPs and would be an insult to voters who have placed their trust in the EU's only directly-elected institution.

Irrespective of the backroom deals and cosy coalitions that have been the subject of much debate, our group is sincerely interested in Juncker's vision for the coming five years and is committed to giving him an open and fair hearing.

Thankfully, Juncker also seems interested in taking the views of a broader spectrum of political groups into account.

Revision of economic response to crisis

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the next president will be to try and free the Commission from the shackles increasingly imposed on it and other EU institutions by EU governments. Ending the unaccountable role of the Troika in EU economic and fiscal affairs would be a major and necessary step for defending European democracy.

There is a need to totally revise the EU's economic response to the crisis to address the devastating social impact this has had.

This means shifting from a blinkered focus on austerity towards future-oriented investment in a sustainable economy. It also means finally completing the euro and moving towards the mutualisation of sovereign debt.

Europe needs an ambitious and concrete job creation strategy, with a particular focus on the youth unemployment epidemic. Tackling inequalities cannot be successful unless serious measures are taken at EU-level on the revenue side.

Tackling tax havens and tax avoidance, by corporations and individuals, must be a core priority and we will be keen to find out how Juncker, in particular, intends to address this.

EU energy and climate policy has to be at the heart of the shift to a sustainable economy. Ambitious and binding 2030 targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as greenhouse gas reductions, will be essential if the EU's goals on energy security and climate change are to be met.

It has to be made clear that dirty and dangerous technologies like shale gas and nuclear power have no part to play in a sustainable energy future.

Europe and its citizens need a Commission president that is not afraid to defend our higher standards both towards the outside world and attempts by corporations to undermine them.

This is particularly true of public services, health, food safety and GMOs. The current negotiations on the EU-US trade agreement (TTIP) risk being a Trojan horse in this regard and must be fundamentally reoriented.

Fundamental values

We need a Commission president who is willing to defend fundamental EU values and the basic rights of EU citizens both within the Europe and beyond.

Restoring an 'open Europe' inside and outside the EU's borders, also implies addressing the current unacceptable approach to refugees and asylum seekers.

We believe it is essential for European democracy that the 'Spitzenkandidat' process is respected and this means the European Parliament voting on the leading candidate to emerge from the elections: Jean Claude Juncker.

However, MEPs must take their decision on whether he is the right man for the job based on his programme. That is what we intend to do following our hearing with him on 9 July.

The writers are co-presidents of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament

Focus

Cameron mends ties with Juncker

British PM Cameron has reached out to Juncker, after having failed to prevent his nomination as European Commission chief.

Juncker: Economics commissioner will be a Socialist

Future EU commission chief Juncker has promised the economics commissioner post to a Socialist, as part of a grand coalition-type of deal between the centre-right and centre-left ahead of a European Parliament vote on Tuesday.

The day we got EU parliamentarianism

Th essence of democracy is that we can go to the polls and elect a new majority, a new government and new laws. The EU is not a democracy.

Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?

Few people commented on one key point in Macron's statement: he did not justify the idea of a European army by the need to intervene in Africa, which would have been France's traditional approach. Instead, he invoked the Russian threat,

EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name

Sergei Magnitsky gave his life to fighting corruption. The least we can do is to honour his sacrifice in the name of the legislation that his heroism inspired.

All Quiet on the Eastern Front?

Russia is trying to foment a clash between Hungary and Ukraine over the territory of Zakarpattia in a potential crisis overlooked by EU leaders.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission to give verdict on Italy budget next week
  2. EU's Tusk is Poland's most trusted politician
  3. Finland prepares to step in for Romania on EU presidency
  4. Trump threatens tariffs on EU wine
  5. US defence chief backs Nato amid 'EU army' calls
  6. Italy defies EU deadline on changing budget
  7. Report: FBI looking into Brexiteers Farage and Banks
  8. Italian journalist unions protest 5MS 'whores' jibe

Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay

The power of the parliament to 'appoint' the president of the EU Commission is new, highly-contested - and not universally understood. In fact, even some of the lead candidates to replace Jean-Claude Juncker are against it.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  2. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  3. EU to review animal welfare strategy
  4. Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?
  5. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  6. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  7. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  8. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us