• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Der Spiegel not all pro-Juncker: 'He is no friend of the Germans'

Germany's Spiegel (magazine and online news agency), has been vocal in its criticism of David Cameron for
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".

Fleischauer continues:
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.


Average Englishman said...

Hardly a surprise that not everyone in Germany agrees on something. It is also not a surprise that when a decision has to be taken between being a 'good European' and saving some cash, the Germans consistently opt for the latter.

Germany had the opportunity in the early 1990's to show that they were good Europeans by helping John Major to keep the UK in the Exchange Rate Mechanism but instead they chose to let the UK crash out of the system with dire effects upon the UK economy (and damn nearly bankrupting me in the process by the way; a financial hit that my family has still not recovered from and probably never will).

No, the German State, press and people have no reason to complain about Juncker; at least he is consistent. Unrealistic and full of dumb ideas but consistent. Equally they have no reason to complain about the anti-EU retoric coming from the UK, Greece, France, Spain and others because it is largely due to their own actions and lack of action in the past. One reaps what one sows in this World. Insitutions also tend to get the leaders they deserve, so it is hardly surprising that the EUSSR gets such wonderful candidates for its President. Tony B. Liar where are you? You're the obvious choice man. A discredited egocentric politician who's policies have been shown to be a disaster for his country would be an absolute 'shoe in' for the EU. You have all the required characteristics!

Jesper said...

My mother keeps saying that quick decisions are often bad decisions. German politicians have not made many quick decisions during the crisis and it would seem they are not rushing into a quick decision this time either.

Demanding that Juncker becomes the commission president seems like a rushed decision and we're now likely to see a slowing down of the process.

Is there maybe time enough to allow Juncker to publicly state what he'd work for if he became commission president?

And I'm still not convinced that he's got full backing of the EPP and if one or more parties moved to another group instead of supporting him then the EPP group might not be the largest...

martinR said...

What is Juncker's manifesto for the Presidency he seeks? Equally,where are the manifestos of his competitors? Or do only Heads of Government get to see them? I am at a bit of a loss as to how the EU works at this far too elevated level.

Jesper said...

Yet another thing about the legitimacy:

Where in the world does people supposedly vote for a leader without knowing what the leaders will strive for if elected?

Election first, then afterwards tell people what they voted for?

Has not even had to come up with false promises before the election... Very efficient, but where is the transparency?

Anonymous said...

@martinR. If you want to read Juncker's manifest and priorities it is available at http://juncker.epp.eu/my-priorities. If you want to see how he compares with the other candidates, watch the first EU Commission President debate.

As Stephen Fry says about knowledge, it is all around you [on the internet] just pick it up.

David Horton said...

“Jesper said: Where in the world does people supposedly vote for a leader without knowing what the leaders will strive for if elected?”

So true, but there is a deeper issue about legitimacy that has bypassed the EU presidium, in their attempts to ameliorate the international disquiet over popular democracy in Europe.

How did there come to be a role that wields this much power? Someone has overlooked asking the citizenry whether they accepted that the EU Commission president has dominion over our lives. A cursory look over history indicates that of the twelve EU Commission Presidents, three, Delors, Prodi and Barroso have between them managed to mould a role that makes them, the de facto leader of the EU. The peoples of Europe have never been asked whether they were in agreement with this.

Juncker today has railed against the British press. Apparently they have questioned the appropriateness of his candidacy given the up-swell in EU scepticism. I find his reaction terribly arrogant. Does Här Juncker not understand that the media usually reflects public opinion? If the British press is asking questions about his federal ambitions, then perhaps it is because the British people want the answers to those questions.

He is also rather affronted that Britain views his candidacy with concern, if not downright suspicion. Instead of olive branches, he is bullish in closed session, describing the alliances he intends to make to assure his presidency. It may sway his own party grouping, but this level of antagonism and personal ambition make it ever more clear that he is not the person for the job.
Renzi called it correctly when he spoke of what should be happening. “To provide answers to the people, not to the ambitions of candidates".

I hope he gets the job over Schulz. I really do. The naked power-hungriness of Juncker, coupled with his dreams of unifying the EU into one single nation, make him the very catalyst we need here in Britain to force Cameron and/or Miliband, that Britons want a referendum. If anyone less inclined towards federalisation gets in, we remain inside the sandcastle, hoping for a low tide.

In short, this guy is currently Nigel Farage’s number one choice. In private anyway.

Jesper said...

Now having read what Juncker wants to do I understand why his vision was not pushed by any politician in Sweden :-)

Maybe the ones who considered voting for the EPP-parties in Sweden did read what he wants to do and that is why they lost representation? The Juncker-effect ;-)

& on a side-note. The Swedish-translation looks to have been done by a bad translation program. I guess that level of investment shows his level of consideration for Sweden and Swedish interests.