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Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

, by Le Bureau national des Jeunes Européens - France

At the 26 June 2014 European Summit, the European Council discussed strategic priorities for Europe in the next five years and, more importantly, took a decision on the nomination of the next President of the European Commission. This decision ends months of theatrical declarations and (un)expected surprises, during which Europe did not display its brightest side.

Until the very end, one would have thought the European Council would deliberately disregard the choice made by European voters on 25 May 2014. But even in pain, the Council made the best decision possible: one which consisted in respecting the democratic process started by political parties during the campaign, and to appoint Jean-Claude Juncker, candidate for the European People’s Party (which came first in the elections), as President of the European Commission.

Whatever opinion one might have about Jean-Claude Juncker as a person, this decision is very welcome, because it constitutes an undeniable step forward for the European democratic model. For the first time in the history of European integration, European parties campaigned with one candidate, renown on a continent-wide scale, thereby allowing citizens to have a say on who should hold European executive power.

Indeed, the procedure was far from perfect, and we can only be appalled by David Cameron’s pathetic attitude, who firmly opposed a nomination he could have sought to influence months ago. European Heads of States and Governments displayed a pitiful image of themselves with dirty political haggling, on a nomination which should have been the object of dialogues and negotiations before the elections, and should now be straightforward. Hence, there is still a lot of room for improvement before the EU achieves an institutional system as democratic as legitimate, and we will have to remember this in five years, when we seek to improve it.

In any case, that Thursday 26 June 24 needs to be remembered as an exceptional day, when citizens made their voices heard by the EU’s highest institutions, thereby demonstrating that things are not exclusively decided in Brussels.

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Photo credit: EPP

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  • On 2 July 2014 at 11:17, by Jean-Luc Lefèvre Replying to: Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    “La démonstration que les choses ne sont pas exclusivement décidées à Bruxelles”? Dans la mesure, certes, où la voix du citoyen a été entendue (le président de la Commission est issu du parti qui a obtenu le plus de voix au récent scrutin), mais si JUNCKER l’a finalement emporté, c’est bel et bien “Bruxelles” en tant que siège de l’exécutif européen avec, à sa tête, un fédéraliste convaincu qui, pour la première fois (on se souvient des claques britanniques aux précédents candidats trop fédéralistes comme DEHAENE et VERHOFSTADT) s’est imposée. De cela, on peut à juste titre se réjouir.

    Qualifier l’attitude de CAMERON de “pathétique” me paraît doublement justifié. Pathétique d’abord son manque de lucidité et sa capacité de prendre en compte la réalité du Royaume Uni. Son arrogance insulaire ne lui permet plus, désormais, d’affronter seul que l’Argentine...et encore, pas en football! Ne parlons pas des autres défis posés par une mondialisation à laquelle il est illusoire de vouloir échapper. Pathétique encore quand il qualifie JUNCKER d’ “homme du passé” dans la mesure où CAMERON étale ici son ignorance de l’histoire et son nanisme politique: il devrait savoir que le grand CHURCHILL lui-même, au lendemain de la seconde guerre, appelait de ses vœux les “Etats-Unis d’Europe”.

    C’est aussi à cette amnésie que l’on mesure le déclin d’un Royaume qui n’a plus d’uni que le nom à l’aune de ses relations avec l’Ecosse et même le Pays de Galles pour ne rien dire de l’Ulster.

  • On 3 July 2014 at 22:03, by Richard Replying to: Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    First. we should understand that democracy includes adhering to the rule of law. The Treaties make it eminently clear that it is the Council, and not the Parliament, that nominates European Commission President. The Parliament may, of course, decline to accept. It is worth noting that the Council is comprised of elected persons and is thus just as reflective of the voice of the voter as is the Parliament.

    Second, it is worth noting that less than 10% of the European electorate actually voted for parties who are part of the EPP Group. The other 90% voted for other parties or did not vote at all. I doubt that anyone actually based their vote on a preference for Mr Juncker (or had even heard of him). In Germany, for example, the CSU openly campaigned on a “Vote for us because you like Angela Merkel”. This reflects the fact that most votes are cast in a national sense. There is no true European demos.

    The one clear message from the recent elections is that overall there is no wish in the electorate for more integration or more federalism. Yet Mr Juncker favours both. He is hardly likely to represent voters in the UK or France!

    I am afraid to say that it is delusion to claim that his elevation to President represents any great triumph for democracy. In any case, he is simply a civil servant, he is certainly not the equivalent of Mr Obama, however much the authors of this article might dream of this.

    As to Mr Cameron; first, being in a minority does not make one wrong. I would prefer Mr Cameron have the courage of his convictions rather than the approach by other countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands who changed their position to simply follow the majority.

    Likewise, I do not wish Uk MEP’s to sit with the EPP or any other group/party whose policies they do not agree with simply to have “influence”.

    One should keep in mind how happy Nigel Farage was at the elevation of Mr Juncker. He knows that this will make it far more difficult for Mr Cameron, should he win the elections and call his referendum, to achieve a vote for the UK to remain a member of the EU.

    In response to the comments above (I am afraid my French is insufficient to reply in that language); no one in the UK ever thinks of the Empire, it is long past and a distant memory or simply something in the history books for people here. Also, Winston Churchill did indeed call for a “kind of United States of Europe” but he specifically excluded the Uk from being part of it.

  • On 5 July 2014 at 13:24, by Charles Replying to: Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    "il devrait savoir que le grand CHURCHILL lui-même, au lendemain de la seconde guerre, appelait de ses vœux les “Etats-Unis d’Europe”.

    Oui.... mais sans la participation du Royaume Uni, si vous lisez bien ce qu’il a dit

  • On 8 July 2014 at 20:39, by Jean-Luc Lefèvre Replying to: Game, Set and Match: the European Council chooses the path of democracy and appoints Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission

    Sur le conseil de Charles, j’ai relu ce “Discours de Zürich” du 19 septembre 1946 où Winston parle de “Famille européenne” et d’ “Etats-Unis d’Europe”...Et c’est vrai!!! Grande-Bretagne, Commonwealth et la puissante Amérique étaient invités à “être les amis et les promoteurs de la nouvelle Europe”!!! Spectateurs donc, mais enthousiastes. Ce que n’est pas CAMERON! Il y a bien régression de la perfide Albion!