Juncker – Will he, won’t he?


The knives are being sharpened. British Prime Minister David Cameron doesn’t want Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, but German Chancellor Angela  Merkel stands right behind ‘her’ candidate. The European Parliament is even threatening a veto if he doesn’t get the job, because the centre-right group – mostly Christian Democrats – the European People’s Party, is again the biggest group and so the voter has spoken. But did you really elect this Europhile who has already been in Brussels for decades? Even if you voted for an EPP affiliate such as the Dutch CDA, did you have this Luxembourger in mind as the ideal candidate? This seems to me unlikely. Nevertheless, the high-flown Punch-and-Judy show goes on. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if in the end it’s another centre-right politician at the head of the Commission.

The puppet show will continue for the next few months. The president of the European Commission will have to be nominated, as will the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the chair of the  European Council (if the decision is taken to have a permanent chairperson), and the chair of the Eurogroup. The incumbent chairman of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, might find that the heads of government are ready to show their teeth.

The attitude of the European Parliament will be interesting. The major political groups have all put forward their own candidates for the presidency of the European Commission and have promised the voters that the candidate of the group which emerges the biggest from the elections will automatically become Commission chief. But the decision lies in the first instance with the heads of government, who determine who will be their candidate-president, after which the EP may of course block any candidate other than Juncker. This will create an impasse which will mean that for the time being we will have no new president. This won’t cause my party, the Dutch SP to shed any tears. We’d rather have no Commission either. However, it’s the Europhiles who were so attached to the new ‘democratic’ election of the Commission president that will want to avoid this.

My estimate is therefore that someone like, for instance, Christine Lagarde, presently head of the International Monetary Fund, will take the prize and that in the end the EP will go along with this. For the time being France won’t want to lose this important position but, after all, the European Commission presidency in French hands is also not to be sniffed at. Certainly not if you consider that Brussels is extremely critical of French economic policies and that France can make things quite difficult. If Juncker doesn’t get the job, then we in the SP will be proved to have been right when we said that all these debates between the ‘leading candidates’ were mere puppet shows: the umpteenth time that the voter has been misled.

Dennis de Jong is a Member of the European Parliament for the radical left, EU-critical Socialist Party of the Netherlands. Spectrezine’s editor Steve McGiffen adds:

Spectrezine also predicted that the vote for the European Parliament would be at most only one factor in the choice of Commission president, and that in any case this did not make it a genuinely democratic election, or even a ruse well-enough designed to show the electorates of the 28 a modicum of respect. The fact is that even in its own terms the election hardly resulted in a ‘victory’ for Juncker’s supporters, who may be the biggest group in the EP, but are a long way from having a majority. W would also note that in one major member state, the United Kingdom, Schulz’s centre-right EPP group doesn’t even have an affiliated party.