Friday

24th Feb 2017

Juncker battles to secure EU nomination

Jean-Claude Juncker - who chaired eurozone meetings for some 10 years and who, until last year, was the EU's longest-serving prime minister - has again said he is keen to be the next European Commission chief.

"I would be in principle willing to run, if the programme and other things are right," the 59-year old Luxembourg politician told German RBB radio on Thursday (9 January).

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.

As the potential candidate of the European centre-right, he added that he relishes the idea of a "lively" debate with Martin Schulz, the offficial centre-left candiate and current European Parliament head.

Juncker's nomination remains uncertain, however.

EU centre-right leaders have said they will decide on the name at a European People's Party congress in March in Dublin.

Key to the process is the only woman among the EPP leaders - German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who, according to Der Spiegel magazine, is not so keen on Juncker's return to the European scene because he often criticised Germany's handing of the economic crisis.

Merkel's spokesman has rejected the Spiegel report.

Juncker himself underlined his "friendly" relationship with the German leader, saying he telephoned her twice in the past three weeks.

The current Luxembourg Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, also spoke with Merkel on the phone. "She reassured me that she does not plan to deprive Europe of the former Eurogroup chief's competences," Bettel told L'essentiel newspaper on Wednesday.

But for his part, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who took over from Juncker as Eurogroup chair, is not helping Juncker's campaign.

Dijsselbloem told a late-night talk show on Dutch TV on Monday that Juncker is a "heavy smoker and drinker."

He added that since Juncker left the post, the atmosphere during finance ministers' meetings "has become much more Calvinistic."

Rumours on Juncker's bad habits have been doing the rounds in Brussels for years. But Dijsselbloem is the first ever to break the taboo on the subject.

His remarks prompted Juncker to retort on Wednesday, according to Luxembourg Wort, that "I don't have a drinking problem ... and I don't want to react to comments made in a humoristic talkshow on Dutch television."

Meanwhile, Michel Barnier, the French EU commissioner in charge of financial services and the internal market, still believes he might get the centre-right nomination, writes Le Monde.

A book written by the French politician is currently on standby depending on whether the text can describe him as a "candidate" for the EU commission presidency or not.

Barnier may be a member of the cntre-right "EPP" group, but the current French government is not, meaning he lacks a top-level advocate for his bid.

The Rheinische Post has also floated the name of another French politician - Christine Lagarde - for the commission top post.

The nomination process is this time around taking place in a new atmosphere.

Under the Lisbon Treaty the political faction which does best in EU elections in May is to get preference in the top jobs race.

But Merkel last year ruled out any automaticity in the process.

Her position means the final appointments are likely to be settled as in the past - in behind-the-scenes bargaining on a package of powerful posts, including the head of the EU council, the EU foreign affairs chief, the Nato head and the European Parliament chairman.

Aside from political affiliation, the bargain traditionally involves considerations on countries representing the north, south, east and west, as well as the need to have at least one woman in the top phalanx.

MEPs set to approve Canada trade deal

The European Parliament is expected to give the green light to the EU-Canada free trade agreement, which would start being implemented in April.

EU leaders to discuss migration, in Trump's shadow

New US president Trump overshadows the Malta summit of EU leaders on Friday, as they discuss the bloc's future amid new geopolitical realities, and step up efforts to stop migration via Libya from North African countries.

France's Macron issues Brexit warning

The centrist presidential candidate tells talented Britons to come to France and warns against giving the UK "undue advantages" after Brexit, in a speech in London.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin the Rare Disease Day and Help to Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations