Jean-Claude Juncker is the European Commission new President. The Eruopean Parliament has confirmed the choice the Council made indicating the former Luxembourg PM as appointed President. He was elected with 422 votes against 250: he just needed 376 votes to get the office, the absolute majority. A threshold he exceed with no trouble, even though there were several votes missing: the deal among EPP (221), S&D (191) and ALDE (67) should have assured 479 votes in fact.
57 VOTES MISSING – Quite a large number of MEPs have then decided, during the secret vote, to avoid following the line indicated by their parties (unsatisfaction was already expressed by Spanish and British Socialists for instance). Some positive vote should have come by Greens instead: they weren’t unanimous about the issue and left their MEPs the freedom to vote. Still, Juncker received more votes than the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, who got 409 votes. Juncker has also received more support than his predecessors: Barroso got 382 votes and Prodi 413.
THE SPEECH – the Parliament was convinced by a speech focused on growth and fight against unemployment, on the need of “getting people at the heart of our society” because “economy needs to serve people, not the other way round.” “We need a sustainable growth for decades, we need ambitious investments improving labour and competition,” MEPs were told. It is now time to make “the twenty-ninth Member State” disappear, the EU state “in which people have no job, in which young unemployed live, in which social outcasts live.”
“A 300-BILLION PLAN” – the commitment of the European Commission new President wants “a plan for growth” which will “mobilise 300 billion euro in the next three years, in public and private investments.” How? “With a focused use of structural funds and of the tools created in a European Pact for Investments.” This idea will be implemented by Juncker in a short time: he promised to present it “by February 2015”
“EXTENDING THE YOUTH GUARANTEE UP TO 30” – Juncker said he would widen the Youth Guarantee age bracket “from 25 to 39 years old individuals” and “dismantle bureaucracy for SMEs,” the only way for making fruitful investments. He also likes the idea of a minimum wage or “starting” wage, still no further details are available on this.
NO AMENDMENTS TO THE STABILITY PACT – The Stability and Growth Pact shouldn’t be amended, confirmed Juncker, because “stability was a promise made together with the single currency and I’m not breaching it.” Still, flexibility margins “have to be used” and the “growth dimension of the Stability and Growth Pact should be implemented in full.” Ad former President of the Eurogroup, the politician from Luxembourg claimed the succes of the work he made but, as he admitted, “we had to fly an aircraft which was burning and we had to fix it on air.” The exceptional circumstances led them “making some mistakes” that cannot be repeated. The. “there won’t be any adjustment program in the future without a serious impact evaluation.” Moreover, even “the Troika should be reviewed” because it lacks “democratic essence. It needs to be re-oriented and we are going to do so.”
ENERGY UNION – In his five years as President of the Eruopean Commission, said Juncker, a true energy Union will be created, together with a single digital market “which can generate further 250 billion euro in growth. Then, the internal market will be completed and the negotiations on TTIP shall be kept up, safeguarding Europe (starting from the protection of data “which are not part of the negotiations with our American friends”).
THE COMMISSIONER FOR IMMIGRATION – great attention was given to immigration, and the newly elected President confirmed : “I will appoint a Commissioner for working with Member States and third party countries involved in this issue.” In the following five years, said Juncker, “I do not want Europe to be a simple observer of others while they advance,” I want “Europe to be a key actor, a model to be followed.” So far the other groups chose to accept his challenge.
THE REACTIONS IN THE GROUPS – After having suspended their judgments until the very last moment, the S&D confirmed their support to Juncker, warning him though. “We will verify the compatibility of our programmes with those of the future Commission, being string in our evaluation” and with a particular focus on flexibility on which, as Gianni Pittella, head of the Group admitted, “we haven’t received enough clarifications.” ALDE supported Juncker too, and Guy Verhofstadt told the President: “Listen to the European Parliament and give a vision of the European future, use your right of initiative, we need more integration to exit this crisis. Were you to do so,” he added, “we would be at your side any time, do it and speak up for this.” Conservatives, eurosceptics and EFDD confirmed their ‘no’ to Juncker, and Farage summed it all saying “You will be elected, and we’ll have fun in fighting you.”