Tuesday

21st Nov 2017

Juncker elected: promises more social EU, more political commission

  • Juncker - elected European Commission president in Strasbourg on Tuesday (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Jean-Claude Juncker was elected European Commission President on Tuesday (15 July) after promising a more social Europe and paying tribute to the major integrationist politicians of the previous generation.

The former Luxembourg PM, who has been on and around the EU stage for the last two decades, received 422 votes, easily surpassing the minimum 376 needed. Of the 729 MEPs that took part, 250 voted against him, 47 abstained and 10 votes were void.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In a 50-minute speech before the ballot, the centre-right politician said he wanted the European Commission to be "very political" and indicated he will try and revive the power of the institution - seen as sidelined after member states handled the long-running economic crisis.

He pledged to revive the "community method" - whereby the EU commission is the driver of EU law-making and strongly differentiated himself with the outgoing commission - which is associated with austerity-flavoured policies - by giving major focus to social issues in his speech.

"You can't achieve competitiveness by getting rid of social security," he said, noting that the "internal market is not more important than social affairs."

He pledged to use €300bn over the next three years for projects that focus on energy, infrastructure, and digital issues.

Other promises include making a lobbyist register obligatory, making documents around a controversial EU-US trade agreement public, and putting an end to the EU dealing with "every tiny problem".

He spoke of the eurozone eventually having its own budget and said the single currency area should be "represented by one single chair, one single office". But he said the stability and growth pact - the rules underpinning the euro - will not be changed.

He also promised to tackle "social dumping", but to leave free movement of people rules intact. He will work for a common asylum policy, and indicated there will be no new EU member states under his watch.

No mention of Barroso

Juncker - who spoke first in French, then German (the "language of the world champions"), and then English - received the greatest applause from MEPs for a strong defence of the euro and for pledging to work for more solidarity between north and south on how to tackle migration.

Ignoring current EU leaders - most notably 10-year commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, who got no mention in the speech - he reached back in time to the 1980s and 1990s for inspirational politicians.

He singled out Jacques Delors, Francois Mitterand, and Helmut Kohl - the commission president, French, and German leaders, respectively - who presided over a dynamic integrationist period in EU history - for praise.

"His work will inspire me," he said of Delors. He said all three were "patient, courageous and determined."

More power to MEPs

Tuesday's vote marks the culmination of a personal journey for Juncker which started in Spring in Dublin when he was nominated to be the centre-right's top candidate heading into the May EU vote.

But it also represents a marked power shift for the European Parliament, which, through wily political manouvering over the past year, has removed the EU leaders' perogative to nominate the EU commission president.

Juncker came to the post because his group, the centre-right EPP, won the most votes in the European election. EU leaders tried to fight the process but conceded defeat soon after the May vote.

Acknowleging the process, Juncker said that this parliament is the first to "really elect" the commission president.

"You have given full meaning to these elections," he added, with the new system now set in the EU's political and institutional landscape.

EP to vote down commission with too few women

EU parliament chief Schulz has warned national governments his institution will reject the incoming college of commissioners if there are not enough women in it.

Magazine

The spitzenkandidaten coup

The year 2014 shall go down as the date the European Parliament snatched away the right to nominate a European Commission president from national governments.

Juncker urged to revive 'Social Europe' model

The ‘Social Europe’ model must be revived if the EU is to avoid lumbering itself with low social mobility and other economic millstones, according to a new report.

News in Brief

  1. European Banking Authority will move to Paris
  2. EU court threatens daily fine over Polish forest logging
  3. EU medicines agency will move to Milan or Amsterdam
  4. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Milan in next round of EMA vote
  5. Three countries pull out of medicines agency Brexit race
  6. Schulz calls for new German elections
  7. EU Commission 'confident' on German stability
  8. EU adopts new border check rules

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  2. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  3. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  4. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  5. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  7. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  8. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  9. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  11. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  12. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017