Juncker 'owes nothing' to Cameron over top EU jobs

David Cameron and Jean-Claude Juncker. Brussels, 17 July 2014 [European Commission]

British Prime Minister David Cameron will press Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President-elect, to assign a prestigious portfolio for Britain in the next EU executive when the pair meet over breakfast this morning (17 July). But Juncker "does not owe him anything," his spokeswoman warned, in a sign that tensions are still running high between the two men.

At last night's EU summit in Brussels, a senior British official confirmed that Cameron will demand a big economic portfolio for Britain in the next European Commission - either trade, competition, finance, energy or the single market.

The UK's commissioner-designate is Jonathan Hill, a Conservative party member who is currently leader of the House of Lords, the British upper chamber of Parliament. 

Juncker's spokesperson, Natasha Bertaud, confirmed that a meeting will take place between Cameron and Juncker, but declined to reveal where.

She did not hide that the meeting could be tense. "As you know Cameron and Juncker have not had the best relationship over the past few months. Cameron is a big diplomat and Juncker will listen to what he has to say. But Juncker doesn't owe him anything," Bertaud told EurActiv.

Cameron bitterly opposed the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker, the former premier of Luxembourg, as the new president of the European Commission, but was defeated by other EU leaders at a summit last month. Hungary's Prime Minister Victor Orbán was the only EU leader who followed Cameron in his opposition to the new Commission chief.

The bruising fight between Cameron and Juncker fuelled speculation that Britain could come away empty-handed when EU leaders finalise a package of top EU jobs.

>> Read: Juncker may punish Cameron with top job carve-up

UK's Hill: a controversial candidacy?

On Wednesday, the announcement of Hill's nomination made headlines. As EurActiv reported, Hill, the leader of the House of Lords, a member of Cameron’s cabinet, and a former special advisor to Kenneth Clarke, is also a pro-European Conservative MP.

Reuters later reported that the head of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said Hill's "radically anti-European" views might prevent him getting onto the EU's executive body.

"I cannot imagine Hill, whose views - in as far as he's got any - are radically anti-European, getting a majority in the European Parliament," Schulz said, according to the article.

But Schulz backtracked at his Council press briefing, claiming he had been misquoted and misled. 

"The journalist who asked the questions told me that about Hill and I put my answer in conditional. I don't have prejudices against him and I treat people fairly," Schulz said.

A Eurosceptic commissioner would meet opposition in the Parliament, Schulz said. He had since learnt that Hill was one of the more pro-European of British conservatives, he added.

He also stated that a Commission without a genuine gender balance among Commissioners would be voted down by the Parliament.

>> Read: Cameron names pro-EU lord who didn’t want the job as Commissioner

  • 17 July: Juncker meets with British Prime Minister Cameron to discuss Britain's portfolio in the next commission
  • 30 August: Next EU Council meeting to decide on a package of appointments for the European Commission and the Council


Mike Parr's picture

The profile of Hill (aka Benny) is of a man that has never held any kind of job outside of the small political world of Westminster. He was in the PM's (John "let's have a bonk on the cabinet room table" Minor's) policy team when all those successful privatisations took place (Rail, Power, water etc etc). So you could say that Hill has more than a passing responsibility for the various disasters and policy failures following on from this.

His current incarnation as a lobbyist and "Lord" further shows that what matters is access to power - not competence or knowledge. Talking to a DG Comp insider last night - we both fell about laughing at the suggestion that Benny could be offered the... wait for it...... competition portfolio...... yes I know hysterical.

Benny is a Tory-Vermin nonentity & Juncker would be well advised to treat him as such - & give him a portfolio that minimises the harm he can do (see above) whilst also respecting his "talents" - perhaps Commissioner in charge of the toilet cleaners would properly reflect Benny's "talents" whilst sending a message to Moron-Con the UK PM.

the Englishman's picture

Well I suppose its a two way street so the UK owes nothing to Junkers who at the end of the day is little more than a civil servent. I have no doubt he got to this position by back room deals with many of the 2nd world EU countries by promising them EU riches and jobs. All very shady but I suppose its democracy EU style.

Eurochild's picture

Dear "the Englishman", when you have 26 of the 28 member-states supporting you it'shardly a "back room deal" or support from "2nd world EU countries" in exchange for riches and jobs. What you have is the overwhelming and broad-based support of the governments of the EU member-states.

Especially when the only two countries not to support you are one that hates the EU and another that is run by a government modelled on a 1930s-style right-wing authoritarian regime.

Btw, every member-state has a commissioner ("job") and the salaries (riches) are not set by the Commission president. In fact, it's not even the Commission president who chooses the Commissioners or which "jobs" they are to do. So, it's hardly "shady" or backroom deals or any other nonsense you are spouting about.

Barry's picture

Well as Camroon was so overtly anti junker he can hardly expect the failed politician from a nation smaller than London to be enamoured with him. Never heard of Hill, who junker showed he is willing to lie about, or that he is easily fooled by hack reporters, but as a pro eussr candidate is in line with camroons real ideas on the corruption ridden democratically deficient body. While we are stuck in this needles level of government we can expect more dodgy politicians to be making money out of our inflated taxation.

Eurochild's picture

Juncker hasn't said anything about Hill!

As with most English eurosceptics, you don't have a clue what you're talking about!

(Clue: as the article - which euractiv.com won't allow me to see when I'm replying to a comment - states "Reuters later reported that the head of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said Hill's "radically anti-European" views might prevent him getting onto the EU's executive body." I know your reading comprehension is not great, but the name "Martin Schulz" is not the same as the name as the name "Jean-Claude Juncker". Not only that, but they are in fact two completely different people).