Junker for Commission President: What were the stakes in this affair

Jean-Claude Juncker, addressing the Plenary of the European Parliament - Statement by the candidate for President of the Commission. (European Parliament Photographic Library 15/07/2014).

Jean-Claude Juncker, addressing the Plenary of the European Parliament – Statement by the candidate for President of the Commission. (European Parliament Photographic Library 15/07/2014).

Jean-Claude Juncker’s was confirmed last Tuesday as President of the European Commission for the next five years. In a secret ballot 422 MEPs who voted for him and 250 against. This goes beyond what David Cameron had imagined, when he decided to fervently oppose this appointment for the top EU job. To be reminded, that Cameron suffered last month another humiliating defeat in the European Council, where 26 EU leaders voted for Juncker, with only the Hungarian Prime Minister Vitor Orban, an inconvenient company, having followed the British option. After the resounding win of the Luxembourgish politician in both the European Council and the European legislature, the British Prime minister must have understood that he has unwillingly triggered the first profoundly political truly pan-European debate around the occupant of the Commission’s helm.

This debate went far beyond the usual economic and bureaucratic character of European Union’s decisions, where even the most important rulings, like the position of Greece in or out of Eurozone, have been taken behind closed doors, after an unbelievable horse trading between the core countries. The election of Jean-Claude Juncker, as Commission President and the wide media coverage of all the deliberations around it, for the first time created a genuinely pan-European political debate, open for everybody to follow.

A truly European debate

Never before in the history of the European Union had a purely political dispute acquired such clarity and extent. All the main players expressed their positions openly and at the end, the European citizens, through their MEPs, said the last word. At the beginning, the whole thing started as a dispute between David Cameron and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Until five years ago, the name of the politician to become the next Commission President was decided in the dark, away from citizens’ eyes. Britain has voluntarily participated in similarly shadowy negotiations and procedures. Actually this undemocratic practice is one, if not the main, objection that Cameron ostensibly now expresses, asking for a deep reshuffle of EU’s workings and the return of sovereignties to member states.

The British PM used similar arguments last year when promising to his compatriots to hold a referendum in 2017 over UK’s position in or out of the EU, if he is reelected as Prime Minister in 2015. He used the same arguments, and obviously exercised his influence in the British media to do the same, in denying Juncker’s candidacy accusing him of being a man of the ‘back room deals’. Unfortunately for him, Juncker belied this accusation by delivering this week a genuinely passionate speech in the European Parliament, promising to ‘reindustrialise’ Europe and help the 25 million of unemployed citizens to find a job.

Elected not selected

In short this election, not anymore a selection, of the next President of the Commission became a truly European issue. Opposing camps of continental dimensions fought an open political struggle not on national issues, but on the burning question of more or less Europe. Explicitly, Cameron supported the latter option and Juncker, backed by 26 heads of states and governments and 422 MEPs, won the clash for the ‘more Europe’ camp. The British MP was then roasted by his compatriots for starting a quarrel he couldn’t win and finally having caused a historic defeat to Britain.

As for Juncker, he showed the magnanimity the conscious winners owe to the defeated. After he was finally confirmed in the European Parliament, he said “I will negotiate with (Prime Minister) David Cameron and with others and we will make a fair deal with Britain”. The new Commission President apparently followed Thucydides advice to winners, not to be insensitive to the woes of the defeated, because such an attitude may provoke revenge and chaos.

Investing €300 billion for more jobs

It’s even more important for Europe to note that Juncker, addressing the legislative after his confirmation, unveiled his plans for a “social market economy, including a €300 billion investment package to boost growth, employment and competitiveness”. He also stressed that he will work to make the EU Commission/ECB/IMF Troika more democratic and enhance the margins of flexibility in the Stability and Growth Pact, as the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and other EU leaders demand.

Summing up what happened during the past three months around the ‘Juncker affair’, it won’t be an exaggeration to call it the first internal European Union clash, which was disputed with purely pan-continental arguments without hidden national targets. Actually, this conflict for the first time formally framed the two ideological camps of the pro and against ‘more Europe’, with the former winning a tremendous victory. The camp ‘against’ more Europe contains uneasy and opportunistic associates, most of who are products of the economic crisis and hopefully will disappear with it. The anti-Juncker camp comprising the British Conservatives, the UKIP of Nigel Farage, Victor Orban’s Fidesz party, Mari Le Pen’s National Front and other extremist MEPs doesn’t constitute a group. They all have widely diverging private agendas.

A genuine European debate

Overall though, the ‘Juncker affair’ was fought as an internal EU issue in a seamless political platform. The confrontation was open for the citizens to follow, unlike almost all the crucial European problems which have been dealt in the past behind closed doors. The arguments and the ideologies employed were of shared European political content. Despite the fact that some of them are openly hostile to the EU, their exponents came up to find out that they represent a pan-European tendency albeit of restricted following.

In any case the solution achieved warrants a higher level of democracy in dealing with such ‘systemic’ EU questions in the future.

 

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

From Israel’s ‘start-up nation’, 4 lessons in innovation

Syria: Why did the US now take the Russian offer for a truce? What next?

Sudzha gas metering station at Russian-Ukrainian border (Copyright: Gazprom, 2015 / Gazprom’s website, Media)

Gazprom starts suspending gas contracts with Ukraine as Brussels fears limited transit to Europe

EU summit: No energy against tax evasion and fraud

EU and China resolve amicably solar panel trade dispute

Schools in Florida now have to teach mental and emotional health

How each country’s share of global CO2 emissions changes over time

The AI doctor won’t see you now

Bangladesh: Head of UN refugee agency calls on Asia-Pacific leaders to show ‘solidarity’ with Rohingya refugees

Main results of G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina

A Sting Exclusive: “Digital and mobile technologies are helping to achieve an economic success in Spain”, the Spanish Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Society Víctor Calvo-Sotelo reveals to the Sting at Mobile World Congress 2015

ECB with an iron hand disciplines the smaller Eurozone member states; latest victim: Greece

This is how companies are working together to create a world without waste

European Commission adopts rules to ensure a smooth transition to its next President and the next College of Commissioners

Eurozone: Retail sales betray economic frailty

Systems leadership can change the world – but what exactly is it?

Statement on the Code of Practice against disinformation: Commission asks online platforms to provide more details on progress made

Will the three major parties retain control of the new EU Parliament?

Help prevent children ‘from becoming victims in the first place’, implores Guterres at campaign launch

Commission to decide on bank resolution issues

Business should be joyful – just ask the sports world

Colombia offers nationality rights to Venezuelan children born there: UN hails ‘very important step’

Is the European Banking Union an impossible task?

Crimea, a wicked game of political chess and a ‘big’ coincidence

Tackling the toxic norms that hold women back in Asia

Nearly 900 reportedly killed following ‘shocking’ intercommunal attacks in DR Congo

France pushes UK to stay and Germany to pay

Have Europe’s Ukrainian wounds begun to heal?

Mother of all mergers between Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram: EU Data Privacy restrictions against Facebook’s imperialistic plans

COP21 Paris: The Final Agreement Adopted-full text

What Ghana can teach us about integrating refugees

Eurozone: The cycle of deficits, debts and austerity revisited

Flexible jobs can make work-life balance worse, a German study finds

Two shipwrecks add to ‘alarming increase’ in migrant deaths off Libya coast: IOM

Restrictions, unmet promises, unbridled violence in Sudan, a ‘recipe for disaster’, says Bachelet

Berlin’s governing elite leads Eurozone to recession to win the September election in Germany

South Africa’s SMEs should be first in line for a digital upgrade

Blockchain will make sure green pledges aren’t just greenwash: a new initiative by young leaders at the World Economic Forum

5 ways students can graduate fully qualified for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

What little Cameron got in Brussels seems enough to keep Britain in the EU

Here’s how to find a job you really love

Medschool 4.0: how to succeed in the smart revolution of healthcare

This woman solved one of the biggest problems facing green energy

Neelie Kroes at the European Young Innovators Forum: Unconvention 2014

Erasmus+ 2021-2027: more people to experience learning exchanges in Europe

Eurostat overturns Commission’s assessment of the economy

US resolution to condemn activities of Hamas voted down in General Assembly

These are the world’s most fragile states in 2019

EU Border and Coast Guard: new corps of 10 000 border and coast guards by 2027

This is what the world’s CEOs really think of AI

China’s impact as a global investor; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

These are the top 10 emerging technologies of 2019

Varna (Bulgaria) awarded European Youth Capital 2017

Finland has giant supermarkets that only stock second-hand goods

Draghi: A bridge from Brussels to Berlin

Largest joint UN humanitarian convoy of the war, reaches remote Syrian settlement

Is Britain to sail alone in the high seas of trade wars?

The European Parliament wants to stay in one place

Mine action is at ‘the nexus’ of peace, security and development: UN official

The untold story of who caused and who pays for the economic crisis

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s