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Monday, June 09, 2014

Renzi: Italy won't support Juncker if EU policies don't change

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has invited Angela Merkel, David Cameron and Mark Rutte to his summer retreat in Harpsund to discuss the future of the EU and, most likely, the appointment of the next European Commission President. The two-day meeting has already been branded by the German media der anti-Juncker Gipfel (the anti-Juncker summit).

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of Europe, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has made his clearest statement to date on Jean-Claude Juncker as the next European Commission President.

He told a conference in Naples yesterday:
"The EPP wants to put forward Juncker? Fine. What is Juncker planning to do over the next five years? Someone who wants to continue with the policies of the past few years will not have our consent."
During his election campaign, Juncker has made clear he is not keen to relax budget discipline. And he has backtracked on Eurobonds, of which he used to be a warm supporter. In other words, not your ideal candidate if you're sitting in Rome (or Paris, we would add).

Even more so for someone like Renzi, who has built up a reputation as 'il rottamatore' - the 'demolition man' of the old political establishment. Now, Juncker can be described in many different ways, but 'new' is definitely not one of them.

Italy is also due to take over the rotating EU Presidency on 1 July. Therefore, Renzi may want to avoid pulling his weight behind a candidate that would not be able to gather consensus in the European Council of EU leaders.  

True, we shouldn't see yesterday's remarks as a definitive 'No' to Juncker from Renzi. The priority for the Italian Prime Minister is to make sure the next European Commission changes its tone on economic policies and grants his government some budget leeway to continue the reform process.

However, this remains a very interesting development. Remember: UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Hungary and Italy could constitute a 'blocking minority' in the European Council...


Average Englishman said...

I have no interest in the analysis of whether a new EUSSR leader will be put in place to kill off the UK as an independent country as quickly as possible (Juncker) or over a longer period of time (a.n.other candidate). A plague on all their houses.

JMR said...

If I were a British PM wishing to leave the EU, and have it made easier for me, I should back Herr Juncker.
On the other hand, if I were the British PM, but wishing to remain within the EU, but on scantily renegotiated terms [which are all that are likely to be available with Herr Juncker as President], I should resist his candidacy.
Which British PM are you, Mr Cameron?

Denis Cooper said...

If Cameron was serious about wanting radical changes to the EU treaties then he wouldn't be so bothered about who becomes the next President of the Commission, because he would know that TREATY CHANGES ARE NOT IN THE GIFT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE COMMISSION.

If the person in that position was opposed to what Cameron says he wants then he could try to obstruct and delay the process of treaty change, but that is all; the treaties belong to the sovereign member states and it is the governments of those members states who have the final word on any changes to their treaties.

The opposition of some of those other governments to the kind of treaty changes that Cameron claims to want would be a far more serious problem then the opposition of the President of the Commission or for that matter the EU Parliament; indeed as each of those governments has a veto on changes to their treaties it is hard to see how it would not be a fatal problem.

So it may reasonably be suspected that Cameron himself does not expect to get the radical treaty changes that he says he wants, and would be prepared to settle for minor changes through secondary legislation which he could then misrepresent to the British people as being massive concessions.

In other words, he is planning to do a Wilson on us.