Juncker: more social EU, more political commission
Jean-Claude Juncker was elected European Commission President on Tuesday (15 July) after promising a more social Europe and paying tribute to the major integrationist politicians of the previous generation, reports euobserver.com.
The former Luxembourg PM, who has been on and around the EU stage for the last two decades, received 422 votes, easily surpassing the minimum 376 needed. Of the 729 MEPs that took part, 250 voted against him, 47 abstained and 10 votes were void.
In a 50-minute speech before the ballot, the centre-right politician said he wanted the European Commission to be “very political” and indicated he will try and revive the power of the institution – seen as sidelined after member states handled the long-running economic crisis.
He pledged to revive the “community method” – whereby the EU commission is the driver of EU law-making and strongly differentiated himself with the outgoing commission – which is associated with austerity-flavoured policies – by giving major focus to social issues in his speech.
“You can’t achieve competitiveness by getting rid of social security,” he said, noting that the “internal market is not more important than social affairs.”
He pledged to use €300bn over the next three years for projects that focus on energy, infrastructure, and digital issues.
Other promises include making a lobbyist register obligatory, making documents around a controversial EU-US trade agreement public, and putting an end to the EU dealing with “every tiny problem”.
He spoke of the eurozone eventually having its own budget and said the single currency area should be “represented by one single chair, one single office”. But he said the stability and growth pact – the rules underpinning the euro – will not be changed.
He also promised to tackle “social dumping”, but to leave free movement of people rules intact. He will work for a common asylum policy, and indicated there will be no new EU member states under his watch.