his objection to Jean-Claude Juncker as the next Commission President, on the premise that he is blocking the democractic choice in Europe.
Spiegel's editing director, Nikolaus Blome wrote a piece for today's FT arguing that:
To many member countries, backing Mr Juncker has become a strong symbol for promoting democracy and transparency in Europe. The British government would be ill-advised to laugh at this sentiment.However, scratch beneath the surface, and you will find that even in Germany, Juncker's is a troublesome prospect. Spiegel columnist and editor, Jan Fleischauer, today argues that, "Juncker is no friend of the Germans".
Or better said, Juncker is only a friend of the Germans, so long as they continue to pay for the debts of their neighbours without grumbling too loudly about it..[He] is one of those people who dream of making the monetary union a debt union.Fleischauer points out that at the the height of the eurocrisis, when the German government was hesitating before providing more bailout money, Juncker said:
This is part of the problem, to behave as though Germany is the only virtuous country in the world that has to foot the bill for all other countries. This is highly offensive to the others.When the German goverment insisted on stricter budgetary discipline in peripheral countries, Juncker's interjection was:
Why exactly does Germany constantly allow itself the luxury of formulating domestic policy in all euro-related questions? Why does Germany treat the eurozone as a subsidiary?And on eurobonds, which Germans have pretty much ruled out, Juncker said:
This approach, building taboo-zones in Europe, and not engaging with the ideas of others, is a very un-European way of doing European business. Germany is thinking a bit simplistically there.Fleischauer then challenges the premise that Juncker is the 'democratic' choice, arguing that his bid for Commission President was "fraudulent" from the very start. He adds:
What one could call a rigged game anywhere else, is called democracy in Brussels: First, one makes citizens believe they can vote on something, that in reality, is in the remit of the heads of [national] governments. When [government heads] subsequently insist on their right to ignore the self-nomination of the candidates, then it is painted as neglecting the vote of people.Fleischauer concludes that, “The only person who can come between [Juncker and the Commission Presidency] is the German Chancellor…One can only hope that [Merkel] says no to Juncker.”
Meanwhile, Bild, Europe's largest tabloid that actively came out in favour of Juncker's presidency, strikes a more nuanced tone today, writing that Merkel didn’t agree on the concept of ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ “from the start,” because she knew “there would be “no agreement” in the Council. The piece adds that Merkel could ultimately “live” with Juncker in the post, because:
The head of the Commission dances to the tune of the heads of the member states: not vice versa.Interesting stuff then, showing that even in Germany, neither Juncker nor the process of his selection are universally endorsed.