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Main article: "Juncker Commission
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Juncker delivering a speech at the election congress of the People's Party in March 2014

For the first time in 2014, the "President of the European Commission is being elected under the new provisions established with the Treaty of Lisbon, which had entered into force after the 2009 "Elections to the European Parliament, on 1 December 2009.

Primary election[edit]

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The campaign bus of Jean-Claude Juncker used for the 2014 election

All factions of the parliament, except the "European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the "Europe of Freedom and Democracy group (EFD), entered a lead candidate, or "spitzenkandidat, each in the election campaign. At the Election Congress of the "European People's Party (EPP), held in "Dublin on 6–7 March, Jean-Claude Juncker was elected the party's lead candidate for President of the Commission, defeating "Michel Barnier. The congress also adopted the EPP election manifesto.[38][39]

Election campaign[edit]

European Parliament election, 2014

In the main debate between the candidates, transmitted live throughout Europe on 16 May via the "European Broadcasting Union, all candidates agreed that it would be unacceptable if the "European Council would propose someone as Commission President who had not publicly campaigned for the position ahead of the election.[40]

In the elections, held 22–25 May, the EPP won the most parliamentary seats of all parties (221 of 751), but short of a majority in its own right.[41]

Institutional approval[edit]

On 27 May, the leaders of five of the seven "political groups of the parliament issued a statement that Jean-Claude Juncker, being the lead candidate of the party which won a plurality of the seats, should be given the first attempt to form the required majority to be elected Commission President. Only the ECR and EFD disagreed to this process.[42][43]

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Juncker with Ukrainian PM "Arseniy Yatseniuk, EPP summit in Brussels, 20 March 2014

Later on 27 May, the European Council gave "its president, "Herman van Rompuy, the mandate to start consultations with the group leaders in the European Parliament to identify the best possible candidate. Having less influence over the appointment than under pre-Lisbon law, the Council instead made use of its right to set the strategic priorities, and included discussions with Parliament leaders and Council members alike for a strategic agenda for the upcoming period in Rompuy's mandate.[44]

During the consultations, Juncker and the EPP agreed to cooperation with the "Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the second largest group in the new parliament, as well as secured the backing of all but two member state leaders. In return for their support, the centre-left group and state leaders secured promises of a shift in focus away from austerity towards growth and job creation for the coming period, as well as promises of some of the top jobs.[45][46][47][48]

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"G7 leaders in Japan, 26 May 2016
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Indian PM "Narendra Modi with Juncker and "Donald Tusk, at the EU-India Summit, "Brussels, 2016

The European Council officially proposed Juncker to Parliament as candidate for the Presidency on 27 June, together with a strategic agenda setting out policy priorities for the upcoming Commission mandate period.[49]

For the first time the nomination was not by consensus, but the European Council voted 26-2 to propose Juncker for the position. Voting against were British PM "David Cameron ("Conservative Party / "ECR) and Hungarian PM "Viktor Orbán ("Fidesz / "EPP), both of whom had frequently opposed Juncker during the election process. Prior to the vote, various media had reported the heads of government of Sweden, Netherlands and Germany were also having similar concerns regarding either the candidate himself, or the way the nomination process was conducted.[50][51] This was however never confirmed by the politicians in question.

Once Juncker had been nominated by the Council he started visiting all of the political groups of the European Parliament in order to explain his visions as well as gain their support in order to get appointed as Commission President. The purpose was also to show that he had understood some criticism levelled by Eurosceptics in Brussels. This was demonstrated when the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg told the ECR lawmakers that "[d]espite what you may read in the British press, I do not want a United States of Europe," as well as "I do not believe that Europe can be constructed against the nation state."[52]

On 15 July, Juncker presented his political programme to the European Parliament in plenary. Following a debate, the MEPs appointed Juncker to the position of Commission President with 422 votes in favour, well over the 376 required, and 250 votes against.[53]

Views[edit]

Juncker said the UK’s decision to "leave the EU was a “choice they will regret one day”.[54]

Controversies[edit]

In early November 2014, just days after becoming head of the commission, Juncker was hit by media disclosures—derived from a document leak known as "LuxLeaks—that Luxembourg under his premiership had turned into a major European centre of corporate "tax avoidance. With the aid of the Luxembourg government, companies transferred tax liability for many billions of euros to Luxembourg, where the income was taxed at a fraction of 1%. Juncker, who in a speech in Brussels in July 2014 promised to "try to put some morality, some ethics, into the European tax landscape", was sharply criticized following the leaks.[55] A subsequent motion of censure in the European parliament was brought against Juncker over his role in the tax avoidance schemes. The motion was defeated by a large majority.[56]

In 2017, leaked diplomatic cables show Juncker, as Luxembourg’s prime minister from 1995 until the end of 2013, blocked EU efforts to fight tax avoidance by multinational corporations. Luxembourg agreed to multinational businesses on an individualised deal basis, often at an effective rate of less than 1%. [57]

On 22 May 2015, at the EU summit in "Riga, "Latvia, Juncker, alongside EU President "Donald Tusk and Latvian PM "Laimdota Straujuma, greeted EU leaders in a way unusual to diplomacy. For instance he tried to convince the Greek Prime Minister "Alexis Tsipras to wear a tie by offering his own piece.[58] He also remarked on "Karl-Heinz Lambertz being overweight and patted his belly. Juncker slapped his former deputy, the Luxembourgish Foreign Minister "Jean Asselborn, as well as kissed Belgian Prime Minister "Charles Michel's bald head.[59] But the most stormy incident happened when Hungarian premier "Viktor Orbán arrived and Juncker addressed him, using the word "dictator", following it with a warm handshake and a slap on the cheek.[60] Later spokesperson "Margaritis Schinas called the event as only a "joke". "Juncker is known for his very informal style", he said and added "I wouldn’t make anything else out of this".[61]

In August 2016, Juncker received criticism over his remarks on "immigration at the European Forum Alpbach in Austria. During his speech Juncker, a supporter of "Angela Merkel's open door response to the "European migrant crisis, made news by telling the audience that "borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians".[62]

Awards and decorations[edit]

National honours[edit]

Academic and other distinctions[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  40. ^ "Eurovision debate". European Parliament. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
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  45. ^ "Loosen EU budget rules in return for support, Socialists tell Juncker". EUobserver. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
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  52. ^ "Juncker tells Parliament Eurosceptics he is no federalist". EurActiv - EU News & policy debates, across languages. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
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  54. ^ Angela Merkel rejects one of Theresa May's key Brexit demands "The Guardian
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  56. ^ Ian Traynor. "Jean-Claude Juncker saved from censure over Luxembourg tax schemes". the Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  57. ^ Jean-Claude Juncker blocked EU curbs on tax avoidance, cables show The Guardian News 1 January 2017
  58. ^ "EU Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker tried to convince the Greek Prime Minister to wear a tie". "Business Insider. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
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  62. ^ "National borders are 'the worst invention ever', says EC chief Jean-Claude Juncker". Independent. Retrieved 22 August 2016. 
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