Jean-Claude Juncker elected president of European Commission

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 2:28:52 by
Jean-Claude Juncker

The leader of the European People’s Party narrowly won the elections on May 25, marked by the irresistible rise of the populists. Although the PPE lost 60 MEPs from 2009, managed to slip the Social Democrat Martin Schulz by a margin of more than 20 seats. And after the election got the hard part: convincing the European Council, and especially a faltering Angela Merkel, that had to respect the will of the polls after a campaign in which all major parties happen to present their candidates as potential presidents of the Commission. In a battle of power that the European Parliament has granted him by the hand to the Council, the appointment definitely isolates the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, the big loser in this process after his rabid opposition to Juncker,  in last Brussels summit with one of the greatest diplomatic defeats the UK culminated in recent decades. Cameron stood virtually alone and Juncker won the vote in the Council by an overwhelming 26-2.

The European parliament risked firing a shot in the foot if not supported Juncker eventually, but until late a close vote was expected, given the difficulty for some parties to appear before national public opinion after voting the conservative candidate. The Luxembourg needed the support of other parties to the most inadequate PPE, stringing four terms – no less than twenty years, as the largest party in the Parliament but falls far short of the 376 seats needed. This has established a de facto coalition – popular, social democrats and liberals have overwhelmingly voted in favor, and until the last minute has sought support at the left end with the announcement of a stimulus plan of 300,000 million euros in within three years, which should be activated before the month of March 2015 is not exactly a Marshall Plan: this figure represents just 0.77% of GDP in the European Union, according to Eurostat data, and includes virtually no money cool in an era marked by budgetary control.

Juncker calls for a package of “ambitious” investments, focusing on transport infrastructure, R & D, broadband, energy and re-industrialization of the continent. But not to stimuli that involve more debt: “No one comes out of the crisis with public spending; sustainable growth is not recovered with mountains of increasingly high public debt.” The conservative leader intends to approve the stimulus MINI PLAN combining private and public money, through the Structural Funds and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Juncker takes weeks courting the Social Democrats and the Greens: hence it has also called for a European minimum wage, promising a new directive on posted workers and, above all, an application of the Stability and Growth Pact (fiscal rules) more flexible, such as Italy and France have been calling. Former President of the Eurogroup (finance ministers of the euro area) acknowledges “mistakes” in managing the crisis, and puts the emphasis on studying the social consequences of aid programs after the devastating effects of the bailouts managed by troika (Commission, ECB and IMF). Juncker said, “We must respect the fiscal rules, the basic principles will not be altered.” Juncker calls for reward countries make reforms (in line with the contracts you want German Chancellor Angela Merkel). Finally, it has also made a nod to UK: “The EU must be large and ambitious on the important things, and modest in every way”.

Harshly attacked today by Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen, Juncker has received the support of his political group, but also has Social help, liberal and even some Green MPs.

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