Tuesday

24th Oct 2017

'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”.

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.

  • 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.

Investigation

The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals

Klaus Mangold, a German businessman with good connections in Russia, and who provided a jet for Commission vice-president Guenther Oettinger, played a crucial role in Hungary's controversial Paks nuclear deal with Russia, Direkt36's investigation has found.

Catalan MPs weigh independence declaration

A crucial week is ahead in Catalonia as its leaders decide whether to declare independence - an illegal move according to the Spanish government – or yield to pressure from Madrid.

Italian regions demand autonomy from Rome

The Lombardy and Veneto regions in northern Italy are seeking greater self-determination from the central government following referendum results on Sunday.

News in Brief

  1. May: EU member states will not lose out with Brexit
  2. Slovakia pledges to be 'pro-European' oasis in region
  3. Report: Catalan leader to address Spanish senate
  4. Fiat-Chrysler 'obstructed justice' reports Le Monde
  5. EU presidency 'confident' on posted workers agreement
  6. Young conservatives boot out Erdogan's party
  7. Tsipras urged to let refugees go before winter sets in
  8. Thousands demand justice in Malta

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe

Latest News

  1. EU commission denies May 'begged for help' comments
  2. Interpol needs EU help to stop abuse
  3. Glyphosate protesters hold meeting with Commission
  4. Catalan MPs weigh independence declaration
  5. Russia used Interpol 'loophole' against EU activist
  6. Italian regions demand autonomy from Rome
  7. Populist victory puts Czech EU policy in doubt
  8. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals