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EU to set new course post-Juncker?

Friday, June 27, 2014 - 02:30

Jean-Claude Juncker was nominated as European Commission president on Friday, despite last-ditch attempts by Britain's David Cameron to oppose his nomination. How will it impact on the EU - and on Britain's place in it? Joanna Partridge reports.

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The man they were discussing wasn't in the room - but EU leaders finally nominated Jean-Claude Juncker for the top job. They endorsed him as European Commission President, despite opposition from Britain. SOUNDBITE: Herman Van Rompuy, European Council President, saying (English): "Apart from the United Kingdom and Hungary, all other countries voted in favour. I congratulated Jean-Claude Juncker already over the phone." EU leaders usually take decisions by consensus, but Britain's David Cameron forced the vote - something officials had wanted to avoid. Cameron says Juncker's nomination makes it harder to keep Britain in the EU. He's already promised a referendum on EU membership - providing he's re-elected next year. SOUNDBITE: David Cameron, British Prime Minister, saying (English): "Now we're all going to have to work together, so we'll have to put that rhetoric to one side for the future and get on with it, but that's the choice that was made. In a Europe crying out for reform, we've gone for the career insider." But the discussion of a so-called "Brexit" could be academic, says Mike Gallagher from IDEAglobal. SOUNDBITE: Mike Gallagher, Director of Research, IDEAglobal, saying (English): "The UK threat is partly for domestic political politics, and I don't think Cameron is going to go as far as suggesting the UK would withdraw. The markets' bias is that current opinion polls suggest that Labour, or Labour and the Liberal Democrats are going to be the next government, so it's unlikely that we'll actually get a referendum." Juncker's appointment caused one of the EU's most personal and public disputes in recent years - just when leaders had hoped to show unity as the bloc recovers from the economic crisis. Once the dust settles, Britain and the other 27 members states should be able to work with him, says Pierre Briancon from Reuters Breakingviews. SOUNDBITE: Pierre Briancon, Reuters Breakingviews, saying (English): "The only qualities that even his supporters recognise in him, compromise-seeker building, political savvy, will come in handy when the moment comes to bring the UK back into the fold and I think that's when you'll find that he can be useful." A loosening of EU fiscal rules is also expected. There was a nod to this ahead of the summit when Germany offered Italy more leniency, in return for supporting Juncker. SOUNDBITE: Mike Gallagher, Director of Research, IDEAglobal, saying (English): "There's been a sense that maybe there was too much austerity and that there needs to be ongoing fiscal consolidation, but maybe not at pace that was seen in 2011 and 2012." There's one more hurdle for Juncker - although just a formality. In mid July he'll appear before the European Parliament and has to win a vote on his policy agenda. Britain at least will be hoping that includes plans for reform.

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EU to set new course post-Juncker?

Friday, June 27, 2014 - 02:30