Wednesday

21st Nov 2018

EU's longest-serving PM resigns, 'hopes' to return

  • Juncker wants to stand again in October (Photo: Council of European Union)

The EU's longest-serving PM, Jean-Claude Juncker, on Thursday (11 July) handed in his resignation to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg after losing parliament's support over failure to stop corruption and illegal wire-tapping by the country's intelligence agency.

In a seven-hour long debate on Wednesday, Juncker defended himself by saying he did not know of all the wrongdoings of the spying agency (Srel).

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

"Are we responsible for something we did not know? I do not think so," he said.

He was accused by a parliamentary inquiry of having failed to control the Srel and to have "too often omitted to inform the parliamentary control committee or the judiciary of its irregularities, aberrations and illegalities."

"The intelligence service was not my top priority," Juncker admitted.

He added he hopes no Prime Minister of Luxembourg will consider the intelligence service a priority.

His opponents also criticised him for having spent too much time in Brussels as head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, which held countless crisis-fighting meetings and prepared the bailouts of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain in 2010-2012.

It is now up to the Grand Duke to dissolve parliament and call for early elections, which according to the finance ministry are likely to happen on 20 October. Juncker and his government will continue as caretakers until then.

Juncker, who is 58 years old, has not excluded the possibility of a comeback.

"I would like to run, but my party has to decide that," he said after meeting the Grand Duke.

The Christian Social People's Party has won every election since its creation, in 1944, except one election in the 1970s. On its webpage, the party posted Juncker's picture and the message: "Together with our Prime Minister."

Juncker has been a member of the Luxembourg government for over 30 years, first as finance minister and, for the past 18 years, as Prime Minister, making him the longest-serving premier in Europe.

He quit the Eurogroup job last year in order to focus more on domestic politics, after having held the office since its creation, in 2005.

Luxembourg's member of the EU commission, Viviane Reding, has been floated as a possible lead candidate of the Christian Democrats in the snap elections.

She has so far shown support for Juncker and said he is the "best [person] to govern our country."

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure

EU ministers' discussion on how to address rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary gets stuck on procedural issues, while Viktor Orban's government claims it is a target of the Brussels elite because of its anti-migration stance.

EU's centre-right make Weber their man to replace Juncker

The centre-right EPP party's congress wanted to show unity - but divisions remain after the political alliance lined up behind Germany's Manfred Weber as their 'Spitzenkandidat' ahead of next year's European election.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs delay vote on greater transparency
  2. Interpol rejects Russian candidate after outcry
  3. Investors seek compensation for Danske Bank losses
  4. Analysis: one-in-four Europeans vote populist
  5. Italy moves to seize Aquarius for illegal waste disposal
  6. EU parliament approves Italian to check European banks
  7. EU agrees tightening rules on foreign strategic investment
  8. Soros' foundation demands apology from Facebook

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Latest News

  1. Challenges for new Franco-German eurozone plan
  2. EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection
  3. Deutsche Bank dragged into Danish bank scandal
  4. New EU human rights sanctions to focus on Africa
  5. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  6. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises
  7. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  8. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us