Wednesday

26th Apr 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”.

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.

  • 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.

Analysis

Orban set to face down EU threats

The European Commission and Parliament are to debate Hungary's slide into illiberal democracy. But the bloc continues to think that Hungarian leader Viktor Orban is not a systemic threat.

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament moves to lift Le Pen's immunity
  2. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's university law
  3. Scots slowly losing appetite for independence - poll
  4. Council of Europe puts Turkey on watch list
  5. EU to put parental leave on political agenda
  6. Israel cancels German meeting over human rights groups
  7. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  8. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. Power struggle in Greenland: Three reasons why the EU should care
  2. Nordic and Baltic countries step up digitalisation efforts
  3. European states still top media freedom list
  4. Let’s not put European public health at risk
  5. Threatened Budapest university calls for EU support
  6. Orban set to face down EU threats
  7. Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU
  8. Russische schwarze Kassen bedrohen EU Demokratie