EU integration and economic recovery are key for new European Commission President

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Aug. 1, 2014 - PRLog -- Jean-Claude Juncker, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, was elected new President of the European Commission, getting the votes of 422 MEPs out of 729. He will take up his office in November.

Before the vote, the politician presented his “New Start for Europe” program, in which he highlighted a number of priorities in many areas. In particular, Juncker stated that in three months, he would prepare a three-year program that will create new jobs and gather €300 bln in investments. In addition to that, he announced his plans to introduce minimum wage in all EU member-states, reduce red tape for SMEs, and ensure Europe’s energy security.

In his speech, the former Luxembourg PM also supported the further European integration and expansion of competences of the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs.

During his election campaign, Jean-Claude Juncker was met harshly by the Eurosceptics, as well as David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Great Britain. The British PM frequently called Juncker’s candidacy unsuitable for Europe, and said the choice in his favor will push the UK towards seceding from the EU.

“[Jean-Claude Juncker] is the ultimate Brussels insider who has been at the table for the last two decades of decisions. If you want change, is that the type of person you want for the future?” Guardian quotes David Cameron.

The foreign observers differ in opinions on the new head of the European Commission. One of them, Bruno Waterfield of The Telegraph, recalls the Luxembourg politician’s eccentric nature.

“Famous for his sarcasm, heavy drinking and chain smoking, Mr. Juncker is not known to have other interests outside politics. He is married, but has no children. According to friends he has a collection of newspaper cuttings and can pinpoint a quote or moment in his political career by pulling out a file,” the analyst writes.

At the same time, Charlotte McDonald-Gibson of Independent writes that the Luxembourg politician who worked as the MP for 20 years not only gathered a wealth of experience but also studied the European Union policy mechanisms through and through.

“He knows the EU politics inside out, serving as head of the group of Eurozone finance ministers from 2005 to 2013,” she stresses, and notes that even Juncker’s opponents choose to rely on his diplomatic skills to a certain degree.

Worldwide experts also note Juncker’s extensive experience. One of them, Patrick Sensburg, German MP from the CDU/CSU fraction, said in an interview to “PenzaNews” agency that he considers Jean-Claude Juncker a suitable candidate for this post.

“He is highly experienced and widely recognized,” the politician clarified.

In his opinion, these qualities will be vital for finding solutions to the most crucial EU problems in the next few years.

“The three most urgent challenges we are currently facing in Europe are: economic stability, peace and security, and responsiveness. In order to maintain economic stability, we need sound financial structures and a healthy budget. Peace and security requests a transnational approach. Further, Europe has to focus on its responsiveness in order to strengthen the citizen-orientated policy,” Patrick Sensburg explained. He also added that the new head of the European Commission has all the tools to influence the EU budget which will be necessary to make the steps in the right direction.

In addition to that, the expert suggested that Jean-Claude Juncker must push for uniting the European Union members under a single banner.

“In order to tackle all challenges, the member states need to let the EU speak more on their behalf with one voice instead of running the risk of 28 different contradictory statements,” the politician noted, stressing the importance of continuing the European integration.

Meanwhile, Jose Ignacio Torreblanca, head of the Madrid office at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said there will be no radical changes in the European Union during Juncker’s term in the office, because the large Parliament coalitions are currently stable.

At the same time, according to the expert, the external policy will mostly depend on the new High Representative for Foreign Affairs. However, the new European Commission President will be able to deliver in a number of areas because of Juncker’s long-term political job experience.

“Those who criticize him on ground of representing the European establishment are right, but the European establishment does not see this as a problem, but as an asset,” Jose Ignacio Torreblanca noted.

According to him, out of all European issues, Jean-Claude Juncker’s must first deal with unemployment and economical decline that threaten to undermine both financial and social support for Europe. In order to prevent that, the Luxembourg politician must skillfully apply the promised €300 bln investment and the existing Stability Pact rules, as well as escaping economic dogmatism by all means.

“Europe cannot afford stagnation. The fuels into Euroscepticism and populism,” Jose Ignacio Torreblanca warned.

On the same topic, Ulf Sverdrup, director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, stressed that the urgent problems the new European Commission President will have to deal with are located not only within Europe.

“The most important external issue is to stabilize the development in the European neighborhood, and that is partially in the relations to Russia, but also in the South where you have dramatic developments — the ongoing assaults on the Mediterranean Sea and also in the Middle East,” the expert said.

At the same time, the analyst noted that he does not consider Jean-Claude Juncker the best candidate for the post.

“It’s difficult to tell if it is a good choice. He’s very experienced, but he’s not so charismatic,” Ulf Sverdrup explained.

The expert also pointed out that the European Commission policy will be determined not only by its President, but also by the team itself. However, who exactly will be in the team is currently impossible to tell.

“There is a political bargaining game going on now, with different countries nominating different candidates,” he added.

Meanwhile, Daniela Kietz, research associate at German Institute for International and Security Affairs, suggested that the new European Commission, headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, may become one of the strongest in the last few years.

“He is the first EU commission president who got nominated and then elected directly through the European elections,” the expert emphasized.

In her opinion, this fact works well in the combination with the former Prime Minister’s great experience and his centrist politics.

Full text news agency "PenzaNews":
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