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Friday, June 20, 2014

Could France and Italy provide Merkel with an excuse to drop Juncker?

The appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as next European Commission President is often boiled down to a stand-off between David Cameron and Angela Merkel. And it looks increasingly likely that there will be a vote on Juncker as early as at next week's summit of EU leaders. He is still the favourite to land the job.

However, Juncker's road to the Berlaymont building is unlikely to be incident-free, and a degree of unpredictability remains.

Over the past few days, France and Italy have made clear that their support for any candidate to the European Commission Presidency is tied to a substantial change in EU economic policies. French Europe Minister Harlem Désir held talks with his Italian counterpart Sandro Gozi in Paris yesterday, to refine a common strategy. Furthermore, France will host a mini-summit of the seven centre-left EU heads of state and government tomorrow, to discuss their priorities for the new European Commission.

The proposal Paris and Rome have been working on is clear: growth-enhancing investments and the cost of structural reforms should no longer count as deficit under EU rules. Merkel has so far resisted the proposal, but Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel - of the SPD - has come out in support of giving more budget leeway to countries that undertake a wide-reaching reform process.

Unlike Cameron, neither French President François Hollande nor Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi seem to have a personality problem with Juncker. Nor have they openly criticised the principle of Spitzenkandidaten. But there is a chance they could end up on the same side of the debate, although for different reasons.

There are many factors at play here. But if Hollande and Renzi push it too far and make it clear that the price of their support for Juncker is a weakening of the eurozone's fiscal rules, they could provide Merkel with an excuse to drop Juncker, sacrificed on the altar of German budget discipline. That would make such a decision more acceptable to the German public, surely?


Anonymous said...

No, it would not make it more acceptable. By now, everyone knows that the fiscal rules are a joke anyway. Countries who want to take on debt, will continue to do so.

Anonymous said...

It seems obvious to me that the two countries are suffering from the lack of illicit drugs and other illegal GDO enhancing activities.

Denis Cooper said...

Treaty of Rome - EEC Assembly not in any way involved in the appointment of the Commission, with each member state government having a veto over appointments.

Maastricht Treaty - Major allowed the EU Parliament to become involved in the appointment of the EU Commission and its President, with the completely new power to veto the appointment of a Commission as a body.

Amsterdam Treaty - Major and/or Blair agreed the EU Parliament could veto the appointment just of the President as well as that of the Commission as a whole.

Nice Treaty - Blair agreed to the abolition of the national veto on the nomination of the President, that decision being one of the many which moved to qualified majority voting.

Lisbon Treaty - Brown agreed to the insertion of a few words which are now being used by MEPs as a pretext for claiming that they should control the choice of the President of the Commission, with the explicit threat that otherwise they will exercise the power of veto previously granted to them through treaty changes agreed by Major and Blair.

That's how it goes, that's why Cameron is now in such a mess.

Anonymous said...

I think you are clutching at straws here. If Renzi and Hollande make weakening of the fiscal rules a condition for supporting Juncker then surely they would have exactly the same condition for supporting any other candidate. Do you really think they would have difficulty finding a blocking minority for any candidate who didn't meet their terms?

Even more important the leaders of the European Parliament have said they will veto anyone who isn't Juncker. How do you suggest getting around that?

Peter van Leeuwen said...

Most people know that the EU is always a large whirlpool of endless negotiations and compromise. In comes Britain: “My way, or I quit!” Hm. Well here's a mitigating circumstance: Not so long ago (1922) Britain still commanded a quarter of the world population. Getting used to a new, slightly diminished role within one long lifetime would not be easy on anyone, and so there is sympathy for post-imperial Britain and the need to accommodate its wishes for a less involved relationship with the EU. Maybe this adaptation will have to take another lifetime?
But it really remains for Britain itself to adapt to a new role, it cannot expect to command 27 other European countries what to do.
Of course Cameron has a point with his remarks about the selection procedure. But so have all the others. It was clear long ago that ignoring the wishes of the large majority in the European Parliament would be stupid. And Cameron comes empty-handed and has nothing to offer, can he promise any outcome in his referendum?

Jesper said...

Shouldn't the countries base their nominations to the commission based on the outcome of the elections in their nations? France to support le Pen, UK to support Farage etc

The treaties are so vague that anyone could demand to be nominated and claim it to be according to the treaties, doesn't even need to be a person connected with any of the partygroups.

Jesper said...

The french voted for le Pen and her policies, are those policies very similar to the policies of Juncker? The one that the french (disconnected?) elite want France to back?

It would be interesting to see a comparison between the two :-)

theyenguy said...

This inquiring mind asks will there be a Brexit? The UK has its own currency, and may be able to detach from growing German and Brussels control. John Mauldin communicates that Brexit Is But A Matter Of Time. Sooner or later the UKIP will take control in an act of sovereign self preservation. As elites gather to Harpsund, Sweden to decide who will be the next EU president, a firestorm is brewing as the consummate socialist insider Jean-Claude Juncker anointment is being challenged by our friends in the UK. David Cameron can read the numbers and the UKIP shot across the bow has stiffened his spine in resisting the irresistible force of elites driving the process of gathering power to the central government in Brussels.

The Mario Draghi ECB June 5, 2014, Announcement of NIRP and TLTRO, and the June 21, 2014, Press Conference Statement calling for a surrender of some sovereignty, ... presented here http://tinyurl.com/ltbgoqj ... come to represent the important assertion of a unified experience, and serves as an early statement in the long process to establish Eurozone economic governance, where diktat provides seigniorage, that is moneyness, replacing democratic nation governance, and the seigniorage of economic choice.