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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Is Bild having second thoughts about Juncker?

If Angela Merkel had privately hoped to quietly ditch Jean-Claude Juncker after the European election, it all started to go wrong when Axel Springer, the media group that owns Bild, Germany's and Europe's biggest selling paper, added its substantial weight to the pro-Juncker/pro-spitzenkandidaten campaign. This severely restricted Merkel's room for manoeuvre.

While Bild's editorial line has not changed explicitly, today's coverage of the issue is notably less enthusiastic. The paper's Brussels correspondent Dirk Hoeren asks "Will the Juncker deal be a dirty one?", with his piece claiming that France and Italy have made their support for Juncker conditional on a relaxation of EU budgetary rules (unlike Cameron who has taken a principled stance).

In a separate op-ed entitled “Merkel’s dilemma”, Bild’s deputy editor in chief Béla Anda argues:
“that the Southern Europeans will make their vote for Juncker dependent on an agreement on their debt policies shows the shabby extent the haggling over the EU’s chief post has reached.”
“If Merkel supports the election of a euro-softener to the post of Commission President, she will have backed the wrong horse.”
“Jean-Claude Juncker should be warned and be made aware that he must not be a chief at the mercy of Southern Europe.”
If you believe in tight observance of budget rules, as most Germans do, the last thing you want is to have a Commission President, appointed on a 'pan-European democratic mandate', who supports relaxing German-inspired rules on budgetary stability and the introduction of eurobonds.

While Juncker might need French and Italian support, ultimately he is the EPP candidate and Merkel is likely to bring her influence to bear. But imagine if 'centre-left' parties with a more avowedly Socialist spitzenkandidat were to win in future. How would Germany respond then, particularly the 'centre-right'? Would it be a case of yes to pan-European democracy, but only if the 'right' candidate wins? It seems like some people are starting to wake up to this prospect.


Anonymous said...

It's about time they woke up the commission president should be neutral not party political. Cameron is right should be left to the council.

Anonymous said...

This only increases the urgency for the sane minority of people in the EU to redouble their anti-EU efforts.
The EU is so doomed it's a wonderful sight!

Gigi said...

That's how democracy works, when your candidate is not elected you have to accept the defeat. If a social-democrat wins the European elections next time he will be appointed.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what we all did not want to read about.

Another shabby, undemocratic deal done behind closed doors with certain parties trying to strike deals that Juncker should not be allowed to make.

What is the difference between the EU and FIFA? Not a lot.

Rollo said...

Why would the council be any more democratic? So that Luxembourg would have the same voting power as Germany or Britain? So that the Southern failed states could out vote the successful one?

Anonymous said...

@Rollo The Council votes under QMV runs - so Luxembourg does not have the same weight as the UK. Open Europe has written a good post on the combination of countries that can block Juncker.

That said, I do agree that it would be undemocratic for a candidate that has the majority support of the parliament not to get the job.

Anonymous said...

Juncker is a dangerous man who has openly called for the EU to have its own armed forces.

If he gets the job it could be an eye-opener for the many people who still believe the EU is only about trade and bendy cucumbers.

Denis Cooper said...

"Anonymous said ...

It's about time they woke up the commission president should be neutral not party political. Cameron is right should be left to the council."

In that case he should publicly denounce his Tory predecessor Major for first agreeing that the EU Parliament would be involved in the appointment of the Commission and its President.

I find that under the original 1957 Treaty of Rome the Parliament (Assembly) had no involvement at all, and I find that it was the Maastricht Treaty on European Union agreed by Major which inserted a new article
that became Article 158 TEC, giving the Parliament the right to be consulted about the appointment of the President and the power to approve or reject the President and the others appointed to the Commission as a body.