Saturday, June 28, 2014


Jean-Claude Juncker was the Spitsenkandidat of the EU Parliament and the EU leaders swallowed the pill.  The UK was outvoted and no longer able to veto Juncker, as it did in the recent past when John Major stood alone against the selection of the Belgian P.M. Jean-Luc Dehaene, who had the support of all the other member states.

Juncker is not without merits. He was Luxembourg's P.M. and an able president of the Euro group (the Euro zone Finance Ministers).  He is known to be an insider of  "all things Brussels."
London considers him a prototype of the "old federalist EU", which is becoming anathema in the UK, where Euro skepticism abounds.  The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian have already reduced Juncker's story line to his supposedly smoking and drinking habits. 

It must be admitted that this "resigned" choice finds few convinced takers. The EU mood is in need of a boost. It got a "remake" instead.  It is becoming harder and harder to find personalities who could revive some form of respect or enthusiasm for the EU. The machinery has overtaken the idea.  The last EU parliament elections were a further demonstration of the European deficit which exists in the public opinion of the member states.

Other top posts have to be filled:  successors for the disastrous Catherine Ashton, foreign policy chief, and the excellent Herman Van Rompuy, European Council President.  The Commission is in need of  leadership and a vision but Europe preferred to go for a plumber. The tragedy is that few creative, original minds are willing to get shackled in this Brussels Swiftian saga.  Nowadays they prefer the corridors of the IMF or Oxford, rather than getting lost in the EU labyrinth.

Europe is not on life-support, far from it, but the alienation among the member states is growing in the absence of a "project", like the one which existed under Jacques Delors.  Mutatis mutandis, the same is happening in the United States.  President Obama is down in the polls, not because he is necessarily wrong but because the grand communicator from six years ago has lost his voice (for now).   It is to be hoped that the EU member states will wake up and compensate for their "indifferent" choice by sending representatives to the Commission who could fill the important posts with some creativity and innovative skills.  If they continue sending mostly "have beens" (there are exceptions), Brussels will begin to look like a ward in need of Florence Nightingale's return.  Her name has become a byword for trouble, but the EU might need some trouble:   Wake up and smell the coffee!

Let's hope that Jean-Claude Juncker will not follow in the steps of the main Luxembourg event, the hopping Echternach procession:  "three steps forward, three steps backward."

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