Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Juncker: A triumph for European Democracy?

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 03:23:45 AM EST

So. Juncker was the duly elected Spitzenkandidat for the post of President of the European Commission for the EPP, the party which won the most seats in the European Parliament elections. He subsequently gained the support of 26 out of 28 Heads of Government and State on the European Council.  And yet British Tories rage at the undemocratic nature of his election. Apparently he is an old school European who doesn't represent the will of the people as reflected in the outcome of the elections.  

Except he does.  This is the first time that voters could directly influence the choice of European Commission President with their vote.  The fact that many voters knew little of the Spitzenkandidat system is neither here nor there. People vote for a party for a variety of reasons, and not always because they like the party leader. Most Prime Ministers are not directly elected by the whole electorate either. Junker has greater democratic legitimacy than any candidate Cameron or a group of cronies on the Council could have come up with, and it is telling that they couldn't even come up with an alternative candidate:  Martin Shultz, Spitzenkandidat for the Socialists & Democrats, the second largest grouping in the Parliament would have been even more unacceptable to them.

front-paged by afew


In reality Cameron didn't have a leg to stand on, and  ended up humiliating himself, and to a lesser extent the UK, as the vote highlighted how isolated the UK has become in the EU. Not surprisingly, if you spend all your time criticizing your Partners in the EU, they end up not being very supportive of you. A bit like the Republicans in the US, Cameron has raged against the 'big Government' of the European Commission and wants to repatriate many of its powers back to individual member states. But those who want to tear down much of what the EU has achieved are unlikely to be entrusted with running it.

I expect Juncker to be endorsed by a large majority of the European Parliament. Sure, a noisy minority may rail against his election. That is their right and part of the democratic process. It is unrealistic to expect unanimous consent in such a large and diverse body.  The era of unanimity in EU decision making may well be over but robust debate is preferable to a cosy consensus. The greater danger for the UK is that, increasingly, more and more member states will not care what Cameron says, or whether the UK stays in or leaves the EU. That will pose a particular difficulty for Ireland, as it will disrupt relations with our largest trading partner and risk destabilizing the peace process in Northern Ireland, where the EU has provided an over-arching, unifying presence.

The EU hasn't exactly covered itself in glory during the current banking, financial and economic crisis. But as the commemoration in Ypres highlighted, it is still a lot better than what went before, and also probably a lot better than any conceivable alternative that Cameron et al may want to offer: an alternative they have conspicuously failed to articulate. If anything, it is the neo-liberal and nationalist "reforms" they advocate that are the busted flush of the recent economic catastrophe.  The problem hasn't been too much EU regulation, but too little, of the banking industry in particular, and of economic and fiscal divergences in general. Juncker's crime was that he didn't sign up to the "reformers" agenda.  And for that we should be grateful.

Display:
It's a salutary return to the constitutional order (slightly increased powers of the parliament) after several years of "crisis mode" rule by the Council of Ministers. The idea that it could have gone otherwise, i.e. that the Council could have, once again, chosen a candidate and imposed it on Parliament, would have amounted to a coup d'état, an institutionalization of the crisis mode. I'm convinced that, if they had tried, Parliament would have prevailed in the end. But it probably would have been a drawn-out, damaging affair, as the national media all over Europe would have harped on how useless the EU is. Instead, here's an opportunity for people to see actual democracy at work, and winning out against destructive nationalism.

The disheartening thing is that it appears, in the media narrative, to have come about through a change of heart by Merkel, under pressure from German editorialists. The positive side of that is that perhaps the German editorialists are getting a bit less destructive.

But what is the prevailing narrative in the various countries? Is it passing unnoticed? How is it being portrayed?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 04:16:32 AM EST
The dominant narrative in Ireland is of Cameron being tactically naive and roundly defeated.  Nobody is expressing huge confidence in, or expectations for a Junker Commission, but it was the only option realistically on the table.  Imagine the Cameron hissy fit had Schultz ended up as the Spitzenkandidat with the largest parliamentary grouping?  Elections have consequences, and it is about time that elections to the European Parliament had some substantive consequences.

In theory, if a number of Parliamentary groupings rallied behind a Schultz candidacy, he could still gain majority support in the parliament.  That is what coalitions are all about in the absence of one party gaining an overall majority.  But Cameron basically wanted to ignore the European Parliament elections altogether and impose a candidate of hhis choosing. One country trying to impose its agenda on all others.  If that had been allowed to happen, what would have been the point of the European Elections?

Merkel may have wavered in her enthusiasm for both Junker and the process by which he was nominated.  But she is, above all, a realist, and knew there was no feasible alternative.  Even Enda Kenny, the Irish Prime Minister who was mooted by some as a Cameron friendly alternative candidate knew there was no alternative to Junker.  

Whether the EU Council members like it or not, the ballpark has moved and the process has changed.  If they want to get someone more acceptable as Commission President next time around, they had better get their act together and agree an alternative candidate much earlier in the process - and get him/her endorsed by at least some parliamentary groupings with some hope of getting a plurality in the European elections.

True, that may make it difficult for a sitting Prime Minister to stand without undermining his current job, but it may be no harm that there is a "decontamination period" between occupying a leading National and European Office, and with the transition legitimated by a European election..

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 06:47:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The dominant narrative in England (sic) is 'Engerland good Europe baaaaaaad.'

Aaaand - that's it.

The fun part has been watching Cameron outed as a flabby, talentless parasite. Most of the posturing was for domestic consumption - there's an election next year, after all - but it's possible Cameron may truly have believed he could make a difference by 'negotiating.'

Not that Juncker is evidence of democracy himself. He's merely a politburo apparatchik with a talent for public speaking and questionable links to the secret services.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 05:35:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There should be no presumption that the Council was even considering to let the Parliament give a role in picking the nominee for commission president. In it's weekend edition, well informed Dutch NRC Handelsblad provides a thorough reconstruction of the past year that ultimately led to Juncker's nomination, with a surprising small role for Merkel, but a key role for Martin Schultz.

A summary:

The article starts with a telling scene right after the election night on May 25: When it became clear EPP had received the most votes, Juncker was invited by Schultz to his office. Schultz opened a bottle, both men toasted and Schultz congratulated Juncker, then let him know he'd throw his complete support behind him to get Juncker nominated. As the paper tells it, Juncker was moved, and replied: "Du bist ein echter Europäer."

One year ago, however, it was far from certain that Parliament would have a hand in deciding on the commission president, the paper recounts. In fact, the idea was scoffed at as late as July 2013 by high-ranking European civil servants.

According to the article, Schultz's role in lobbying for the idea of Spitzenkandidaten was a fundamental game-changer. Merkel, who wasn't enthusiastic about the idea, ultimately relents, also after pressure from EPP-chairman Joseph Daul. This is another key moment, because the EPP was dragging its feet to find a suitable candidate.

With some prodding, Jucker then becomes the EPP candidate, even though he was busy angling for Rompuy's spot. The election is won by the EPP, yet Schultz doesn't waver: he immediately throws his support behind Juncker, also rallying other parties of the European Parliament.

The Council, including Merkel, is now positioned in a losing position: dumping Juncker at this juncture risks getting spun into electoral fraud. So the role of Spitzenkandidaten, initiated by Schultz, turned into a game, set and match for the European Parliament and Schultz. There was little Merkel (or other political leaders) could have done after the elections in May, or risk political damage. Although she initially wavered about Juncker, Schultz' pressured her - and Merkel conceded, then made her support public on May 30.

Also mentioned by the paper: no one in the Council cared much about Cameron's tantrums - in fact, his unwillingness to compromise isolated him rapidly amongst his peers.

by Bjinse on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 07:18:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no doubt that the election of Juncker will be quite a coup for the parliament, and in particular for Shultz. What made it difficult for Merkel and other EPP leaders to oppose his election is that he had been duly elected as the Spitzenkandiate for their own party. Why should they ditch their on Party's candidate in favour of someone supported by Cameron whose own party and left the EPP on rancorous terms?  Taoiseach dismisses speculation over role as EC president

Mr Juncker, viewed as an arch-federalist and potential road block to reform by Mr Cameron, was put forward by EPP, under the "Spitzenkandidaten" process. Speaking on Fridday in Luxembourg, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he supported Mr Juncker's candidacy. "I think there's a fundamental democratic position that our party, the European People's Party, put him forward as his candidate on the clear understanding that if we had a majority, he would be the candidate for President Barroso's position. So I think there was a commitment to the public on that basis."

Asked whether Mr Juncker, who was the head of the euro group during the Irish bailout, was the right candidate for the position, Mr Noonan said: "He was the selected candidate by vote in Dublin and he defeated Michel Barnier, and that's the position."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the man or his policies, but a determination to stick with the agreed process.

The fact that the major British parties had no role in the selection of either Juncker or Shultz as Spitzenkandidaten effectively ruled them out from having any say in the process.  Of course Cameron can instruct his Conservative MEPs to nominate some Eurosckeptic for the post - and then we will see just how little influence the UK now has in EU politics.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 08:28:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read it in Süddeutsche or taz that Merkel has been had in two ways. First, by staging campaign debates in German, Schulz prompted her to throw her support behind Juncker to thwart Schultz with an articulate opponent in those debates. Second, she still didn't take the EP seriously and thought she can forget about Juncker during post-election bickering, but due to Schulz's quick swing behind Juncker, there was no post-election bickering.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 04:43:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There will be an election...

The campaign tour by Juncker and Schultz was odd. They didn't really campaign for their individual candidacies (that formally don't exist anyway). It was more of a stunt to bring people to the EU voting booths. With a bit of talk about the EU's future.

There was an election...

Contrary to the parliament's attempt at self-assertion, we're back to the tradition of appointing well-drenched has-beens as commission presidents (Barroso, Prodi, ...).

I don't know what this strange altercation about Juncker all means except that the UK is on an exit vector. If the Scots decide to leave, will it fire up the exit/devolution camp or will it bring an anti-fracturing shell shock?

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 06:26:15 AM EST
Many national elections are about the qualities of the local candidate or the policies of respective parties rather than a direct choice of who should be prime Minister - which is often the result of complex coalition negotiations in any case. So the campaign by Junker and Shultz wasn't that odd, especially as it was part of an emergent rather than a well established process.  

I think we are a long way from seeing (say) Junker's face on Fine Gael election posters in a European election, because European elections are still primarily fought around local and national issues and personalities. Personally I much prefer this to an American Style Presidential election which revolves largely around the perceived (manufactured) "character" of the two leading candidates.

The Governance of a complex structure like the EU is too complex to be reducible to the public personas of two rival candidates and their PR machines and I prefer it to be the resultant of many complex local and national processes. I also see no problem with the winner being someone with a long track record of service at national and EU level.  How else is their competence and allegiances to be judged?  At 59,  Junker is hardly a senile old codger.

As far as Scotland is concerned, I doubt it will secede from the UK right now, but the chances of that happening would be much greater following a UK withdrawal from the EU. Equally, even some Northern Ireland Unionists might prefer to remain in the EU than leave with England, putting the current constitutional settlement into play and causing all manner of tensions with unpredictable results.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 07:08:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My Dad asked me this morning if Britain would leave the EU and, even after a few moments thought, I had to honestly answer that I didn't know.

It will not happen if Labour win the next election, but that's beginning to look like a big IF. But let's not get into who might win that.

Should the Conservatives win an outright majority (possible if not likely) then Cameron will have to hold a referendum. And if they do, then we will leave as the public have been persuaded by the tabloids that europe is evil and all we have to do is leave and the Americans will sweep us into their arms and protect us from evil socialist provision of health services and welfare.

And nobody will try to persuade us not to leave, I think they're all fed up with the constant whining from Westminster and feel that, all things considered, it's best to be rid of us.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 09:34:32 AM EST
I do think Cameron has done himself a lot of damage with Merkle et al - and for what gain?  A temporary bump in the polls? That is precisely to sort of narcissistic nationalist behaviour that get's up everyone else's goat.

In the past the EU might have been willing to bend over backwards to give Thatcher or Major some concessions which they could tout as a victory over Europe and an excuse for staying in.  But that playbook may have payed itself out, and I wouldn't be surprised if there was very little goodwill toward's Cameron's difficulty, and even a package of measures which, on balance, most members could agree with or live with might be difficult to secure.

What I think will happen is more of a multi-speed Europe - groups of members cooperating on specific joint projects and leaving it open to others to join in later if they wish.  The UK will increasingly be left behind - whether or not in formally leaves,

The other thing that constantly amazes me is the number of Expat Brits - at east 2 Million in Spain and France alone who are very dependent on many benefits the EU brings and many of whom yet have little good to say about it.  They are in for a shock if the UK really does decide to leave.

Ireland is in an invidious position.  It could lose a good friend and most important trading partner and see N.Ireland destablized all over again.  As against that many Global companies currently headquartered in the UK could move substantial operations to Ireland to remain within the EU and the English speaking world.

I have never understood the business case for the UK leaving, and imagine most bigger businesses would ve horrified at the prospect.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 10:37:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you think your dad would vote in a referendum on EU membership?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 05:21:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nobody will try to persuade us not to leave
Except for the financial times...

Martin Wolf: No shelter for Britain in European halfway houses (June 12, 2014)

The halfway-house alternatives to being inside the EU might include membership of the European Economic Area (like Norway), membership of the customs union (like Turkey) or bilateral agreements (like Switzerland). If the UK were in the EEA, it would retain access to the single market but would have no voice in setting its rules. If the UK were in the customs union, it would lose access to the single market and would have to accept the common external tariff. If the UK sought bilateral agreements it would be at the mercy of a vastly more powerful partner: the UK does 50 per cent of its trade with the rest of the EU, while the latter does 10 per cent of its trade with the UK.

Again, if the UK wanted any form of privileged access to EU markets it would have to accept EU regulations, the bete noire of eurosceptics. Furthermore, should the UK choose membership of the EEA, it would still be bound by rules on freedom of movement of people. Should it not even be in the EEA, it might regain control over movement of people, but that would depend on the outcome of bilateral negotiations on market access. Even the saving on net budgetary contributions (now 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product) following an exit could be notional. If the UK still wanted access to EU markets on privileged terms it would have to make a fiscal contribution, as do Norway and Switzerland. Today, Norway's contribution per head is much the same as the UK's.

The only way to give the UK more independence would be abandonment of all forms of privileged access to EU markets and so total reliance on membership of the World Trade Organisation. But that would also give the UK little say in new plurilateral agreements among big powers, provide negligible protection to its exports of financial services, damage its appeal as a base for multinationals' exports to the EU and allow the eurozone to force relocation of trading in euro-denominated assets from London.

I think the UK might prefer to go the way of Switzerland, considering that Switzerland recently voted to limit the free movement of people and that's what the little Englanders are most concerned about...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 05:40:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also from the FT, Gideon Rachman: Block Juncker to save real democracy in Europe (June 2, 2014)
The idea that Jean-Claude Juncker should become the next head of the European Commission evokes a strange, irrational rage in the British. I know because I share that rage. There is something about Mr Juncker, a former prime minister of Luxembourg - his smugness, his federalism, his unfunny jokes - that provokes the British.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 05:49:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed, but I have never quite understood why the EU has given such privileged access to Switzerland, and what it has gotten in return.  Also, if the UK leaves on bad terms, I find it hard to see why the UK would be given similar privileges.  After all, the City is a direct competitor of Frankfurt and other European financial centres.  Why would the EU go out of its way to help a competitor who has done everything it could to damage the Euro/pean project?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 07:35:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If anything, it is the neo-liberal and nationalist "reforms" they advocate that are the busted flush of the recent economic catastrophe.  The problem hasn't been too much EU regulation, but too little, of the banking industry in particular, and economic and fiscal divergences in general. Junker's crime was that he didn't sign up to the "reformers" agenda.  And for that we should be grateful.
You've got to be joking. Juncker has been an enforcer of the Stability and Growth pact and an opponent of measures which would have arrested the economic and fiscal divergences that the Eurozone caused. See, for instance Straight Talk From Juncker by afew on February 12th, 2010.

It would have been equally "democratic" for Juncker not to be supported by the European Parliament. And he shouldn't have, for his only virtue is that he's an old-fashioned federalist mindful of the "community method". But he's an austerian. And to spite Cameron, the European Parliament has thrown its weight behind Juncker without subjecting him to a policy debate in the Parliament on his political and economic "program" as Commission President.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 05:20:27 PM EST
Enforcing a duly agreed EU Treaty (however misguided) and threatening to tear the whole edifice of European integration down are two different things - by an order of magnitude.  Of course Juncker is a conservative - he is the nominee of a conservative party - and therefore supports conservative economic policies.  But at least he does so from within the framework of existing EU Treaties - however inadequate - and he is not attempting a wholesale rolling back of those Treaties.

I agree it would have been equally democratic had a majority of the European Parliament rallied around an alternative candidate.  But that option disappeared once Schultz threw in his support behind Juncker - possibly because he knew an EPP dominated Council would never support a Socialist for the job.

By rallying around Juncker the European Parliament has at once avoided a confrontation with the Council and helped to copperfasten and legitimize a role for itself in future Commission President appointments.  

That I suspect was the priority: institutionalize the European Parliament's role in the appointments process, worry about the actual quality of the candidate and the program he offers the next time around.

I suspect Merkel's biggest concern is that Juncker is now beholden to the Parliament (and in particular to Schultz) for his position, and thus far more open to influencing from those quarters than she would like.

The Council lost the initiative, and control of the process to the Parliament. Next it could lose control of the Commission policy agenda to the Parliament.

I suspect there will now be a lot of Council attention paid to the selection of the next President of the Council, and possibly a lot of tension between the next Commission and Council Presidents.

This is only natural given the Council is much more EPP dominated than the Parliament.  But it also reflects increasing tensions between National leaders (looking over their shoulders at Eurosceptic oppositions) and Community based institutions like the Parliament and Commission.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 07:56:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course Juncker is a conservative - he is the nominee of a conservative party - and therefore supports conservative economic policies.

There is no 'of course' about this. Whatever the meta-procedural aspects are, was there ever any chance that this job would go to someone who doesn't support neoliberal policies?

Back when the UK was still a democracy there were twenty years or so of turn-taking, with Old Labour and the Tories swapping places on a fairly regular schedule.

How likely is it that someone from the left - even from the more-centre-than-left centre-left - will get Juncker's job within our lifetimes?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 05:57:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would help if there were more actually socialist Governments in the EU, and at least a plurality of socialist MEPs in the Parliament.  The fact that Socialists have failed to win majorities in most Member state even after one of the greatest crises in capitalist history tells you something about their ineffectiveness even if democracy has been suborned by corporatism to a large degree. Elections have consequences and it is hard to see how a socialist could get the top job in Europe until socialists start winning a lot more elections.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 08:42:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:

Back when the UK was still a democracy there were twenty years or so of turn-taking, with Old Labour and the Tories swapping places on a fairly regular schedule.

How likely is it that someone from the left - even from the more-centre-than-left centre-left - will get Juncker's job within our lifetimes?

Once working class become middle-class (utter BS, but if you have the trappings, it must be true, right?) then you start voting Tory so you can pay less taxes. With real labour offshored, you end up with a fake Labour party as there are no more unions with political heft. So here we are with two centre parties you can't fit a cigarette paper between. (Campaign rhetoric aside.)

As for during our lifetimes, I am more optimistic as the ship of Euro-State is keeling so alarmingly something has to give. The media is already spinning at the speed of light, and there is a huge demographic educated and unemployed enough to wonder if the problems are structural, and figure solutions will have to be too.

So if media cannot stretch the veil ever thinner and it rends too much more, and clever clowns like Grillo and Brand can start mobilising the downtrodden masses, then we may see rapid change.

At which point Boris' water cannons come into play as the media is reduced to being a Pravda-like laughing stock and democracy runs out of velvet masks and gloves leading even the blindest to realise we have created fascism (complete with porn and videogames this time).

At that point all bets are off, because the only hedge they have is thug mercenaries between them and ugly, appropriately merited demise.

Divide and conquer has a sell-by date... Eventually all ploys become unviable.

Maybe the event horizon is closer than it seems, refraction can be deceptive. If the left really stood up for those suffering under austerity it could earn a lot of votes. One problem is we look at places like Nigeria and think we have no right to complain really. Boku Harum is not stealing our girls from their beds, supermarkets are still wasting 40% of the food, the surface still looks normal enough so we're ashamed to make too much of our first-world problems, we should suck it up and trust our dear leaders to know better what we need, after all they went to Eton!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 09:43:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem for the British is that there is no EPP party in the UK, Labour did not endorse Schulz in the PES selection process, the Lib Dems endorsed Rehn over Verhofstadt in the ALDE process, and so on... In other words, Britain as a whole sat out the European Election in so far as the election was intended to select the Commission President.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 05:34:57 PM EST
And so Cameron decided that the European Parliament elections had nothing to do with the appointment of the next Commission President - just as the main Parliamentary groupings and national political parties associated with them had decided precisely the opposite, and campaigned accordingly.

Cameron is now paying a real price for ordering his MEPs to leave the EPP in 2009. Poetic justice, really.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 28th, 2014 at 08:39:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is everyone using this German word? I mean, it's not like British or Italian or Spanish parties go into an election without giving voters a clear idea of who they want as PM, not to mention TV debates. Is this a ploy of the British Europhobic media to hide the democratisation aspect of the federalist coup and make it appear 'foreign', or is really impossible to find a smooth English expression for the concept?

BBC News - Election 2010: Three way clashes in historic TV debate

Gordon Brown and David Cameron have clashed over spending cuts, tax and political reform in the UK's first prime ministerial TV debate.

Britain's first Prime Ministerial TV debate: Gordon Brown crushes naive David Cameron as kid Clegg shines - Mirror Online

David Cameron was left ­floundering last night as Gordon Brown repeatedly outsmarted him during Britain's first Prime Ministerial TV debate.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 04:54:35 AM EST
I suspect it is partly because no British party nominated, endorsed or supported either Juncker or Schultz - who would both be unknown to most Brits - and so there was a "not invented here" denial of the process. I suspect most Brits are genuinely surprised that the European elections had any particular significance to anything other than an attitude survey of British in/out opinions.  If you spend your life being taught to criticize, dismiss and disdain EU institutions, don't be surprised at your almost complete ignorance of how they actually work.  Having contributed nothing to the process, Brits were not invested in the outcome.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 08:36:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the debate was really only followed in Germany. They even had debates between Juncker and Schulz only on German TV.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 09:30:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh? There were several debates, and the first was for France only (France24/RFI).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 02:57:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, the biggest debate was moderated by a talking head Italy's Rainews24.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 02:59:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Finally found a list. I see there were two each for Germany+Austria and France, and there was also one for Italy:

At least 4 televised debates between Schulz and Juncker, more to come? (update: now 7!) | Jon Worth

  1. 9th April at 1710 CET on France24 TV, and 1910 CET on RFI radio (France), a debate between Schulz and Juncker, presumably in French (details here)
  2. 12th April at 1100 CET on TV5 Monde (global, in French), and repeated evening of 13th at ?? CET on RTBF, in French, and pre-recorded and edited (only details in this tweet)
  3. 28th April at 1900 CET on Euronews, with Juncker, Schulz, Verhofstadt and Keller, details and a live stream here, and the Twitter tag is #EUdebate2014
  4. 8th May, 2015 CET on ORF (Austria) and ZDF (Germany), a debate between Juncker and Schulz on the "Duell" programme, presumably in German (details here)
  5. 9th May at 1830 CET on RAI (Italy), a debate between Schulz, Juncker, Bové and Verhofstadt at EUI Florence, I presume in English, interpreted? (details here (scroll down to the bottom)), follow on Twitter #SoU2014
  6. 15th May at 2100 CET from Eurovision and EBS, and made available to national broadcasters (inc. BBC!), predominantly in English but also with interpretation (details here), and to be debated on Twitter using the tag #TellEurope, with 5 candidates - Schulz, Juncker, Verhofstadt, Keller and Tsipras
  7. 20th May, 2100 CET on ARD (Germany), a debate between Juncker and Schulz and the leading candidates of German political parties for the election on the "Die Wahlarena" programme, in German (details here)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 03:35:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Spitzenkandidat. Why is everyone using this German word?"

Good question! Would not the English 'annointed candidate' do nicely? I would suspect that it is because of the Europhobia of most of the UK press. Did the FT also use 'Spitzenkandidat'? How better to minimize the significance of something you don't like than to insist on using a funny foreign word to describe its chief exemplar?  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 11:54:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could always call it "Point Man"... ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Jun 29th, 2014 at 08:55:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Peak candidate? (not to be confused with peek...)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 05:31:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Leading candidate.

It's easy if you try... not that the press will.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 05:55:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ehh.. Don't really see why "Candidate" needs any special modifiers at all in this context. "The PPP candidate for the presidency" is sufficiently accurate, isn't it?
by Thomas on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 05:56:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that there are "leading candidates" in each individual country.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 06:15:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is the British one?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 11:50:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 11:53:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point, the UK is divided into regional constituencies, so not even...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 11:56:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well you have to admit that this european siptzenkandidat was for some reason mostly a german thing. So it is somewhat fitting.
by IM on Sat Jul 5th, 2014 at 12:16:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...that Martin Schulz successfully implemented my 2005 blueprint for a democratic revolution in the EU.

Better late than never.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 05:59:56 AM EST
European Tribune - A blueprint for a democratic revolution in the EU

Is this legal?

The way I see it, it violates the spirit, but not the letter, of the current EU regulations. That's why I call this a democratic revolution. In the worst case, the Council would refuse to nominate the Parliament's endorsed candidate, and a nomination battle might ensue, with the Parliament voting down all Commission President designates. Now, if the EP's move is backed by a majority of MEPs elected within the last 6 months after an explicit campaign, they can claim they have the backing of the European people against the Council.

This would break the system, but the system is already widely recognized as disfunctional and needs reform. The Council (in Nice 2002) and the Commission (with the failed Constitution) have shown themselves unable to propose a reform that will engage the people of Europe. So it is time for the only directly elected institution in EU governance to force the system, to the breaking point if necessary, in order to effect change in the right direction.

Election of the Commission president through the EP was specifically outlined in the EU Constitution - which, as we know, got derailed by the French and the Dutch referenda. However, the notion of EP influence on the election process did re-manifest in the Treaty of Lisbon - but here it was defined vaguely and without specific detail. Even so, it left a loophole for the EP to exploit. Through the process of Spitzenkandidaten, the EP has successfully leveraged and defined their influence.

by Bjinse on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 06:17:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 06:21:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very prescient of you. You weren't, by an chance, one of Shultz's strategic consultants? By giving up his own (legitimate) ambitions, he helped copperfasten a process which will lead to the Parliament having some real power the public can identify with - elections, for many people, are about people rather than parties or policies, and having a parliament which effective elects a "Prime Minister" for the first time makes the EP a tangible rather than abstract concept for many. (They could only spin their "success" in reducing cross border mobile roaming charges so far...)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 07:26:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite  a positive development. But it is enough? With enough I mean: will it change anything in the economic trajectory of the EU? Increasing the power of the parliament can in principle create an institution which is directly responsible to the European People and it might reign in the destructive tendencies of European decision making, which we have witnessed so far during the financial crisis?.

But again: Is it enough? How long can we tolerate 12% unemployment and more? What is Juncker going to if the EU dips back into recession?

I agree that it is great that Juncker got elected. But I fear it is to little to late.

by rz on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 07:31:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am no so much celebrating Junckers election, as the fact that the process by which he got elected was more democratic than heretofor, and raises the prospect of greater powers and accountability for the EU Parliament which is long overdue.

As far a actual policies, are concerned, it is unlikely to make all that much difference, as the composition of the EP is not all that much different from the European Council, and in fact includes greater representation for Eurosceptic, xenophobic, nationalist and even fascist parties.

On the positive side, the Schultz Juncker friendship and cooperation may lead to the development of an effective EPP/S&D grand governing coalition drowning out and blocking off more extremist groupings. I wouldn't expect any revolutionary policy proposals, but at least they will try to make existing Treaties and Institutions work as well as they can within those constraints - as opposed to the Conservatives, Nationalists, and Xenophobes who seem intent on stripping the EU back to something not much greater than a common market.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 07:44:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect Martin Schulz may be actively using European politics as a lever to contest Merkel's power as German Chancellor, and possibly even to try to be Chancellor himself after 2017.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 08:12:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Optimism all around!

I have been quit downbeat recently. But maybe things will improve gradually as you guys suggest. Lets hope so.

by rz on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 09:19:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Juncker episode is the first time I've seen Merkel misread a olitical situation. She must have been shocked to see the Conservative German press chastise her (and the EPP generelly) for not supporting their own candidate at the Council. So, Schulz got the upper hand over Merkel on this one. Nevertheless,
Here is what the final [Council] conclusions say (emphasis ours, omission include the usual lip service to structural reforms):
The possibilities offered by the EU's existing fiscal framework to balance fiscal discipline with the need to support growth should be used...while making best use of the flexibility that is built into the existing Stability and Growth Pact rules.
...

Over at Frankfurter Allgemeine, Werner Mussler concludes that the reason Angela Merkel agreed to this interpretation is that the stability pact no longer has a political priority for her. He writes the 2005 rules are extremely flexible. That flexibility will now be used to the fullest He notes that Merkel has never left an area of political importance to her to the European Commission. The fact that she now would suggest that she is setting up the Commission for future infringements of the rules.

(Eurointelligence, email)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 10:47:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, that's an interesting idea. Schulz would be a different chancellor candidate who could actually confront Merkel and think outside the box the Berlin SPD leaders are trapped in. However, I think it is unlikely: my impression is that Schulz is a thoroughly EP politician who made his career there (thanks to Berlusconi) and built his network there, and I doubt he knows how to handle the horrible concoction of the different wings and networks within the federal SPD.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 03:32:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the positive side, the Schultz Juncker friendship and cooperation may lead to the development of an effective EPP/S&D grand governing coalition drowning out and blocking off more extremist groupings.

On the negative side, if that's a Grand Coalition for business-as-usual on economic policy, it might lead to their further weakening and the further strengthening of the extremists.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 03:35:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kudos to Schulz for organising the thing, and to the other parliamentary groups for seizing the moment. But the potential was there for all to see (though it's surprising how people can misread constitutions)
eurogreen:

Saying that the SpitzenKandidat system has gone further than the wording of the treaties is missing the point. The effective balance of power in EU institutions may well be different from what is written, or what is generally understood. Now it is apparent that, since Parliament has a veto on the president of the Commission, that effectively gives the power of nomination to the Parliament too.

An example : it took nearly thirty years before it came apparent that the 1958 French constitution gave ultimate power to Parliament, not to the President. If the Council wants to seize back the parcel of power that Parliament has taken from them, they will have to tamper with the constitution (as the French political class did). And... good luck with that.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 02:09:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
like old times!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 01:17:59 PM EST

Per chi non avesse ben chiaro chi sarà a decidere dopo Barroso il livello di disoccupazione, i diritti sociali da negare e le privatizzazioni selvagge da imporre a milioni di greci, spagnoli, portoghesi, italiani... vi segnaliamo come Juncker, alla guida del Lussemburgo per 18 anni - ha sfiorato il classico ventennio dittatoriale - fu costretto alle dimissioni nel 2013 per il rapporto di una commissione parlamentare in cui fu presentato il quadro di una "struttura di polizia segreta", che aveva compiuto migliaia di intercettazioni illegali, organizzato missioni fuori dal suo mandato, spiato politici, acquistato automobili per uso privato con denaro pubblico e accettato soldi in cambio di favori. Un curriculum che deve avere convinto subito il Pd di Renzi. Ma Juncker è noto anche per la sua democraticità e l'ampio rispetto delle volontà popolari. Allo Spiegel, in un'intervista del 1999 disse: "Prendiamo una decisione, poi la mettiamo sul tavolo e aspettiamo un po' per vedere che succede. Se non provoca proteste né rivolte, perché la maggior parte della gente non capisce niente di cosa è stato deciso, andiamo avanti passo dopo passo fino al punto di non ritorno". E da presidente dell'Eurogruppo il 20 aprile 2011 disse: "Le politiche economiche della zona euro dovrebbero essere prese nelle buie e segrete stanze per evitare turbamenti nei mercati finanziari. Sono pronto ad essere insultato per essere insufficientemente democratico, ma voglio essere serio. Sono per dibattiti segreti, al buio". E così che l'Europa agisce e continuerà ad imporre le decisioni ai suoi valvassori alla Renzi.
Nel 2007, infine, Juncker ha ottenuto l'onorificenza di Cavaliere di Gran Croce dell'Ordine al Merito da parte di Giorgio Napolitano. Bisogna aggiungere altro?

=

For those not clear who will decide Barroso after the level of unemployment, social rights and by denying the wild privatizations to be imposed on millions of Greeks, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians ... as you point out Juncker, leader of Luxembourg for 18 years - came close to dictatorial classic twenty years - was forced to resign in 2013 for the report of a parliamentary committee in which it was presented the picture of a "structure of the secret police," who had made thousands of illegal wiretapping, organized missions outside by its mandate, spied on politicians, bought cars for private use with public money and accepted money in exchange for favors. A resume must be immediately convinced that the Democratic Party of Renzi. But Juncker is also known for its democracy and the full respect of the popular will. At Spiegel, in a 1999 interview he said: "We take a decision, then we put it on the table and wait a while 'to see what happens. Unless provokes protests or riots, because most people do not understand anything of what is was decided, let's go step by step to the point of no return. "And as president of the Eurogroup April 20, 2011 said: "The economic policies of the euro area should be taken in the dark and secret rooms to avoid disruption in the financial markets.'m Ready to be insulted for being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious.'m discussion secrets in the dark. "And so that Europe does and will continue to enforce its decisions vavasours to Renzi.
In 2007, finally, Juncker has received the honor of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit by Giorgio Napolitano. You have to add anything else?

http://www.beppegrillo.it/2014/06/juncker_dove_passa_lui_non_cresce_piu_lerba_e_neppure_leuropa.html

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 30th, 2014 at 08:53:42 PM EST
Yes. I think the parliament has now permanently fixed the vague passage in the lisbon treaty in its favour.

That is important. As far as the content of the next commission policy of the next commission - the right did win the EP election  and dominates the Council, so there was not much hope anyway.

by IM on Sat Jul 5th, 2014 at 12:33:31 PM EST
This is also what worries me. It is the right thing to do to make Juncker President of the Commission. But policy wise this might turn out to be a disaster.

I looked up his speeches on his webpage, here is a passage from a speech he gave in Portugal:


Debt is deeply anti-social. Because the debt generated today will have to be repaid by our children and grandchildren.

Every cent too much we spend too will be lacking when our children and grandchildren want to have access to schools, a reliable health system and a strong social system.

Think about the children!

Well, then the Portuguese will have no debts and hospitals and school buildings in ruins.  Thats really great for the children.

by rz on Sun Jul 6th, 2014 at 03:49:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 "But policy wise this might turn out to be a disaster."

compared to the status quo?

by IM on Sun Jul 6th, 2014 at 06:59:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point. No. It is the status quo.
by rz on Sun Jul 6th, 2014 at 07:24:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]