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.

 

the sting Milestone

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

144 years on, Universal Postal Union meets to define its 21st Century role

Tusk fights back while charismatic Boris goes against everybody in Brussels pushing the UK to leave the EU now or never

5 things you need to know about your microbiome

Japan’s holiest shrine is pulled down and rebuilt every 20 years – on purpose

Peace will be ‘paramount’ issue for incoming Afghan Government: UN mission chief

Employers’ organizations work towards improving the enabling environment for sustainable enterprises

Historical success for the First ever European Presidential Debate

Making technology work for 1.3 billion Indians

‘BioSolar Leaves’ are better at cleaning the air than trees, say the technology’s developers

Can ECB’s €60 billion a month save Eurozone?

UN chief reaffirms commitment to untying ‘Gordian knot’ of Middle East conflict and instability

Young New Yorkers bring robots, and a glimpse of the future, to UN Headquarters

Financial support for workers affected by no-deal Brexit

Aung San Suu Kyi appears at ICJ as UN rights expert urges greater protection for Myanmar activists

Renovation Wave: doubling the renovation rate to cut emissions, boost recovery and reduce energy poverty

To be fair or to be sustainable? That is the (retirement) question

Here are three technology trends changing the way you travel

FIFA and UN kick off healthy living campaign, to harness global game’s ‘huge potential’

EP leaders call for negotiations on upgraded Transparency Register to continue

A Sting Exclusive: “Our Great Awakening, Rebuilding in a Culture of Collective Trauma”, by Dr Hokemeyer

The third bailout agreement for Greece is a done deal amid European economies full of problems

Computer skills are crucial for children – in lockdown and in life

Antibiotics are contaminating the world’s rivers

Europe bows to Turkey’s rulers, sends Syrian refugees back to chaos

Is sub-Saharan Africa ready for the electric vehicle revolution?

Here’s how sustainability can make you stand out from the crowd

GSMA Mobile 360 – MENA Dubai on 26-27 November 2019, in association with The European Sting

Paris, Rome, Brussels and Frankfurt to confront Berlin over growth and the Athens enigma

Why the world needs systems leadership, not selfish leadership

Teamgum @ TheNextWeb 2014

‘Growing alarm’ over Fall Armyworm advance, with cash crops ‘under attack’ across Asia

UN ‘financial crisis,’ years in the making, Guterres tells budget body, proposes solutions

Fair Taxation: EU updates list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions

Chicken soup for the digital soul: how to bring community back online

Turkey to let EU alone struggle with the migrant crisis while enhancing its economic ties with Russia instead?

This is what is still holding social entrepreneurs back

The ECB tells Berlin that a Germanic Eurozone is unacceptable and doesn’t work

European Union signs aviation agreement with the Republic of Korea

UN agency plan tackles ‘hidden cost’ of gold, paves way for safer, mercury-free mining

‘Hateful attacks’ pushing Sri Lanka backwards, UN advisers warn, urging an end to ‘discriminatory practices’ that feed intolerance

EU Civil Protection Mechanism must be sufficiently funded to save lives

Still recovering from devastating cyclones, Mozambique, in UN address, warns of global warming’s ‘nefarious consequences’

Parliament: No consent to EU budget until €11.2 billion unpaid bills are settled

Here are 5 reasons why the ocean is so important

COVID-19: It’s time to rethink where, how and why we work

Coronavirus: 5 ways to work from home with your kids (and stay sane)

Stricter rules to stop terrorists from using homemade explosives

Rule of Law: European Commission refers Poland to the Court of Justice to protect judges from political control

Here’s why we need a global agreement on cross-border science to beat COVID-19

‘Complacency’ a factor in stagnating global vaccination rates, warn UN health chiefs

EU fight against tax-evasion and money laundering blocked by Britain

Wolfgang Schäuble: “Without European unification, there would be no German unity”

Feeling the heat? This is how to keep cool as temperatures rise

Repression, use of force risk worsening Bolivia crisis: UN human rights chief

Here’s how sustainable aviation fuel can take off in Europe

Has Germany rebuffed ECB on the banking union?

To build a circular economy, we need to put recycling in the bin

More than half of the global population is now online

Misinformation and growing distrust on vaccines, ‘dangerous as a disease’ says UNICEF chief

More Stings?

Advertising

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