Juncker EC presidency: UK loses opposition allies – BBC News








Jean-Claude Juncker arrives at an European People's Party (EPP) meeting in Brussels - 27 May 2014Jean-Claude Juncker is confident he will become the next EC president if “common sense prevails”

David Cameron’s bid to block Jean-Claude Juncker becoming the next European Commission president looks set to fail after his allies changed tack.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had given the British prime minister hope after agreeing to a vote on the issue if there was no consensus.

But both the Netherlands and Sweden now say they will back Luxembourg’s ex-PM.

Mr Cameron says Mr Juncker’s nomination ignores the “pro-reform message” sent by European voters last month.

The EU summit starts on Thursday after leaders first commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One in Ypres.

That ceremony will be followed by a working dinner on the EU’s long-term policy agenda in Brussels, before EU leaders make a decision on the Commission presidency on Friday.


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Analysis: Cameron’s allies against Juncker fall away by Gavin Hewitt, BBC Europe editor

There is, of course, an element of domestic politics at play with David Cameron’s strategy. Facing down the lacklustre Mr Juncker seems to be playing well with British voters.

But David Cameron is also fighting for a principle that nominating Mr Juncker would be an “irreversible step which would hand power from the European Council [heads of state and government] to the European Parliament”.

Why does that matter? Because the prime minister in his bid to sell a reformed Europe to the British public needs the reverse to happen: a shift in power back to national parliaments. This fight over the former prime minister of Luxembourg is part of the longer struggle to reform the EU.


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Objections

Mr Cameron has said he will demand an unprecedented vote if Mr Juncker’s name is tabled so that EU leaders are forced to justify their support for the veteran politician in public.

The UK prime minister believes Mr Juncker is too much in favour of closer political union and might block reform of the EU.

He also objects to the idea that EU leaders are allowing the European Parliament to effectively make the choice, since Mr Juncker was the leading candidate of the centre-right group that topped May’s polls.

















Jean-Claude Juncker - file pic

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Jean-Claude Juncker is seen as the ultimate Brussels ‘insider’








The UK’s Europe minister David Lidington said choosing the Commission president from among those leading candidates risked making the EU executive a “creature of the European Parliament”.

He also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the issue Mr Cameron had with Mr Juncker was not because of his personality, but a point of principle.

“The idea that we’re now seeing the bosses of the party factions in the European parliament should get together and stitch up in advance the people who the heads of government of the European countries are allowed to vote for is, we think, an abuse of the treaty,” he said.

Previously, the job at the head of Commission has only been given with the unanimous agreement of at least the EU’s bigger countries, including Britain.

But with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban now Mr Cameron’s only supporter, correspondents say Mr Juncker is likely to be overwhelmingly backed as the nomination, even if it does go to a vote.


David Cameron shakes hands with President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy outside 10 Downing Street - 23 June 2014Mr Cameron wants European Union president Herman Van Rompuy to force a vote on the issue


Damaging row

Chancellor Merkel said on Wednesday that it would be “no tragedy” if Mr Juncker won the Commission’s top job with less than unanimous backing.

But Downing Street said that she later agreed with the British PM that a vote should take place if necessary.

A statement from No 10 said she also underlined their support for Britain’s continued membership of a reformed EU.

But the BBC’s Chris Morris says the fact that such a statement needs to be made is a reminder of how damaging this row has become.

Speaking in Berlin on Tuesday, Mr Juncker said he expected to be confirmed as the next Commission president by the end of the week “if common sense prevails”.

Juncker EC presidency: UK loses opposition allies – BBC News

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