Friday

19th Apr 2019

'Germany does not want Juncker to resign'

  • Juncker said at last week's summit that he "doesn't care" about the personal attacks. (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

“Germany does not want Juncker to resign. Full stop. It doesn’t make any sense. Full stop”, Elmar Brok, a senior MEP from the ruling CDU party of German chancellor Angela Merkel told EUobserver on Monday (4 July).

Leonie Haueisen, a spokeswoman for the centre-left SPD party in the German ruling coalition, said: “Calls from Germany for Jean-Claude Juncker’s resignation are not known to us”.

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

  • Brok (L) said it makes no sense for Juncker to step down. (Photo: European Parliament)

They spoke after a British newspaper, The Sunday Times, quoted a German minister, who asked to remain anonymous, as having said that Juncker’s handling of Brexit was “very damaging” and that pressure on him to step aside was becoming “greater”.

A leading conservative German newspaper, Die Welt, in an editorial last week also said that “Juncker is unsuitable to be president” of the European Commission.

The attacks, building on earlier criticism by Czech and Polish politicians, have centred on Juncker’s vision that EU institutions, instead of member states, should play the leading role in European affairs.

They also come amid his erratic behaviour in press briefings and reports of his ill health.

A commission spokesman, Alexander Winterstein, on Monday declined to comment directly.

He said that he was aware of the “less favourable” press reports, but that the commission was “very busy” and “focusing on its work” of fostering economic growth and handling the migration crisis.

Judy Dempsey, a Berlin-based expert with the Carnegie Europe think-tank, said Merkel had not wanted Juncker to get the job back in 2014, but that it would be “too disruptive” to try to eject him.

“Who on earth would be interested in having even more chaos now?”, she told this website on Monday, referring to the post-Brexit chaos on the British political scene. “This is not the time … I don’t think there’s any appetite for a coup”, she said.

A contact in the centre-right EPP, the European-level party that contains Juncker and Merkel, told EUobserver that Juncker’s suitability for the post “is not a discussion in the party”.

Biding her time

But other EU sources believed that Merkel is biding her time.

“Merkel seems to be waiting for the right moment to say goodbye to Juncker. She wants to make sure she can fend off efforts by Schulz to become commission president. She wants to have a viable alternative candidate before getting rid of Juncker,” one contact said, referring to Martin Schulz, the German head of the European Parliament, who hails from the SPD party.

Schulz aside, the Dutch commission vice-president, Frans Timmermans, is also being mentioned in EU corridors as a potential Juncker replacement.

But a second EU source said that Timmermans, an outspoken critic of Hungary and Poland’s erosion of democratic standards, would not get Budapest or Warsaw’s support.

The source said that Jyrki Katainen, the commission vice-president for investment and growth, is an option.

The source said that Katainen would be acceptable to Merkel because, as a former Finnish PM, he had executive experience and because he was a fiscal hawk who hailed from her EPP group.

Removed by parliament only

If the attacks intensified, Juncker’s hold on power could become politically untenable, but in terms of due process he cannot simply be removed.

According to the EU treaties, the commission president and his whole commission can only be removed from office en bloc by a vote of censure in the European Parliament (EP).

The EP has never exercised the option. In 1999, the fraud-tainted commission of Jacques Santer resigned before such a vote took place.

Meanwhile, even if Merkel had a clear idea of who to put in Juncker’s post, a reshuffle of the college of commissioners would hamper the work of the commission amid uncertainties about the good functioning of the EU after Brexit.

Juncker dismisses criticism of Brexit performance

Juncker has said he “doesn’t care” about criticism of his handling of Brexit and told Austria to “stop messing around” on complaints that he bypassed national MPs.

EU wobbles on Canada free trade

Following criticism of his leadership, Juncker could yield to member states on how to ratify a free trade agreement with Canada.

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us