Thursday 23 May 2019

Jean Claude Juncker elected next EU Commission President

Jean-Claude Juncker
Jean-Claude Juncker

Daniel McConnell, Group Political Correspondent in Brussels

European leaders have selected former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker as the next EU Commission President.

Mr Juncker's nomination had been opposed by British Prime Minister David Cameron but he was very much in the minority.

Mr Cameron forced the matter to a vote but Mr Juncker won out by 26 votes to two, with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban the only other leader to oppose his candidacy.

Mr Juncker now goes forward to be ratified by the European Parliament in July.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny strongly backed Mr Juncker's candidacy despite persistent speculation linking him with the post, had Mr Juncker not made it through.

Mr Juncker's candidacy was marred yesterday by reports in the British media that EU leaders have expressed concern over his drinking habits.

In recent weeks, fears that Mr Juncker drinks too much have been raised at the highest levels by European leaders, the Euro-sceptic Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

According to the paper, some European leaders privately have concerns over the lifestyle of the continent’s president-in-waiting.

Supporters of Mr Juncker have dismissed the story as "dirty tricks".

Mr Cameron admitted that the "odds were stacked" against him in his attempt to block Mr Juncker, but said he was opposing his nomination on principle.

Mr Cameron said that it is "important to stick to your principles" as he warned that Mr Juncker, an arch-federalist, will "reduce the power" of nation states around Europe if he gets the job.

"I know the odds are stacked against me, but that doesn't mean you change your mind, it means you stand up for what you believe," Mr Cameron said in Brussels.

He added: "There are times when it’s very important to stick to your principles [and] your convictions even if odds are heavily stacked against you."

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