Merkel meets the anti-Juncker front in Stockholm

Jean-Claude Juncker [dpa]
Jean-Claude Juncker [DPA]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet British PM David Cameron and her Dutch and Swedish counterparts today (9 June) in Stockholm to try to square the circle over the appointment of the next commission president ahead of the EU summit at the end of the month.

The debate on the Commission post is shaping up to be one of the most poisonous battles Brussels has seen in years, with the risk that Britain could be pushed closer to leaving the EU if its opposition to Juncker is not heeded.

The former Luxembourg premier, who Cameron regards as an old-style federalist lacking the skills to shake up how the Commission does business, is supported by the European People's Party, the EU's largest centre-right political family.

The EPP won the most votes in European elections last month and will hold 221 of the 751 seats in parliament, a long way short of the majority needed to secure definitive backing for its candidate.

It is now up to EU leaders to nominate someone to the post "taking into account" the election results.

However, last week, on the sidelines of Brussels G7 summit, it appeared there was a no clear backing for Jean-Claude Juncker or anyone else to become the next president of the European Commission.

After talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's François Hollande and Britain's David Cameron, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the first goal was to define the priorities for the next Commission and then decide on the right candidate to head the institution.

"No candidate has obtained a majority and this is a very important step, therefore we must find a common understanding," he said. No country can decide the issue unilaterally, Renzi added, a possible dig at Britain which openly opposes Juncker.

"This is not the time and place for diktats or vetoes."

Ahead of the two-day meeting in Stockholm, Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt raised questions about the credibility of the process for filling the top job in Brussels.

“For me and for Sweden, we have put in question the process itself,”  Reinfeldt told in an interview to the Financial Times.

“We do not support the idea because it would make it impossible for any other candidate and rule out a lot of potential commission presidents,” he said. “We should take care of the balance between different institutions.

According to the British paper, the Swedish centre-right premier is seen as a possible compromise candidate for the top Brussels job. But Reinfeldt has said his sole priority is the national elections due on September 14, in which is centre-right party is expected to be defeated as polls suggest.

Another alternative candidate, Christine Lagarde, the French president of the International Monetary Fund, said on Sunday that she was “flattered and honoured” to be seen in Britain as a potential Commission president, but repeated her determination to continue to the end of her mandate in Washington.

A decision needs to be taken ahead of the first plenary session of the new European Parliament at the beginning of July where new MEPs are expected to l vote on the European Council's nomination.



Joe Thorpe's picture

Half of EU doesn't want this nomination of Junker to go through but they haven't the backbone to cross swords with anyone in case they snap back & bite them. Instead they hide behind the UK hoping they can just get away with shrugging their shoulders. If He wants to be President lets have a referendum in each member state to ratify his position 15 nominations & he gets the gig.

the Englishman's picture

Joe, there is an easy answer as to why not many countries want to lock horns with the Queen of the EU. Its because out of the 28 countries that pay into the budget there are only 8 or 9 that don't take more out than they put in. I think its called Solidarity where the rich countries keep the cash flowing to the corruption in poor countries who pay there EU money in on Monday get it all back on Tuesday and its just gravy for the rest of the week. So why rock the apple cart when your getting money for nothing?
This Junkes man is a die in the wool Federlist and I have no doub't that, if the UK does not leave ASAP, within 10 years we will be forced into the EURO and within twenty we will be a state in the Union and cease to be a sovereign country.

an european's picture

In remembering that this man lead Luxembourg very well through the crisis!
That this man wants only end the north and south gab !
That this man has candidate !
That this man has won the majority of elections !

So as english-man what does the Eurozone interests you ? Even as long as you're not in IT but to know that anyway UK will Brexit ..for sure !

The Euro is really strong maybe this is the real cause headachin' Cameron !
The loss of it would be fatal then better to go to the required federal rules it needs anyway concerning the macroeconomic imbalances !
Cameron wants only his business in his interests but has some issue to accept some decision of a statesman of a mini country !

Juncker candidate and won !

If Cameron want's to breach the democracy of the election ..maybe for him and should buy another taste!

Plain and simple !

El Pluribus Unum

Gerry's picture

Why does Cameron want to block Juncker so badly, and yet he nor Hague want to nominate an alternative? Why does Cameron so insist on making 'reforms' yet he does not want to go into any detail about them? The EU would be crazy waiting for him, if they end up in a position where they would have to re-negotiate the treaties, which would be an absolute disaster, as this would take decades to accomplish with a high chance of failure. The British people would be stupid to support a set of reforms that will only benefit the banks, the wealthy and the stockmarkets. The EU would betray itself if they allowed him to push for a candidate that is on nobody else's list. All of Cameron's actions are about self interest. He just does not understand what 'Europe' is all about.

Mike Parr's picture

Good points Gerry, but I'm confused, the PM of the Uk is Moron-Con no?

Also let's not forget that the Tory-Vermin are funded/bribed by the UK financial sector - you could describe Moron-Con & Gidiot (finance minister) as Sooty N Sweep with the City of London as Harry H. Thus the talk of "reform" and "cutting red tape" is to allow Tory-Vermin funders to make more money - whilst (natch) making the rest of us poorer. & for the most part - the British public are apathetic in the extreme hence voting against their interets.

the Englishman's picture

One question why, if this man gets the job, have 3 out of the 13 presidents of the EU come from Luxembourg? One of the smallist countries with 500,000 people and they get three men in to the most powerful EU position.

Carlo Waldman's picture

As in any parliamentary democracy, the candidate of the party having the largest representation in Parliament should be mandated first to gather a coalition majority around his/her programme. If s/he fails, the candidate of the second largest party should be given a try, etc.
After the 2014 European elections, that person who should try first is Jean-Claude Juncker.
Stop the fuss, and wake up to European democracy.

TinuzH's picture

If this horsetrading is democracy, I'll eat my shoes. One this is a blatant powergrab by the EP. The Lisbon treaty clearly states that the next president of the commission is to be appointed by the council "taking into account the election results". To me that means a select a candidate from the biggest party. The Parliament has to approve this candidate so should of course be consulted in the selection process. No where does the treaty mention this whole 'Spitzenkandidat" process. Neither did it improve turn-out or whatsoever making the whole democratic argument rather academic. This supported by a poll in which only 8,8% of the voters could name Mr. Juncker as the candidate they voted for. So democratic no. Apparently and not suprisingly if your read the Treaty of Lisbon a lot of National Leaders of course including Mr. Cameron, but also the leaders of Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary and France have all voiced their doubts about this process. For them conceding this issue of principle would guarantee that future commission presidents will claim a mandate to claw greater executive powers, ensuring a slide towards federalism never envisaged in the treaties. The real criticism for the current impasse should be levelled not at Mr. Cameron but at those EU leaders who agreed to the Spitzenkandidat process in the first place, in some cases despite deep misgivings. Chief among these is Angela Merkel. Her decision to support Mr. Juncker’s candidacy ahead of the European elections looks entirely cynical. Throughout the euro crisis, she was adamant that national institutions are the true source of political legitimacy in Europe. She has consistently proposed inter-governmental rather than supra-national solutions, much to the frustration of euro-federalists. Yet she went along with a federalist ruse designed to confer bogus legitimacy on the commission president.

She did so largely out of political calculation. Partly, she backed Mr. Juncker because the centre-left socialist block had already picked a Spitzenkandidat and she didn’t want to be accused during the election of opposing greater European democracy. She also went along with the plan because she assumed it would be easy to throw Mr. Juncker under a bus when the elections were over—as she duly tried to do within hours of the vote being counted, at a dinner of EU leaders. But Mrs. Merkel under-estimated the head of steam that built behind the Spitzenkandidat process during the election campaign among members of the European Parliament.