Sunday February 1, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
16o C
13o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
After seismic elections, EU leaders assess damage

By Paul Taylor & Luke Baker

European Union leaders, stunned by a big Eurosceptic protest vote in European Parliament elections, agreed on Tuesday to seek a package deal of appointments to top EU jobs with an economic agenda to win back public confidence.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the 28-nation bloc's most powerful leader, acknowledged that her centre-right party's candidate, former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, may not end up heading the executive European Commission.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, under pressure after the anti-EU UK Independence Party won the European Parliament election in Britain, came to the EU summit in Brussels determined to block the nomination of Juncker, seen in London as an old-style European federalist.

Sweden, the Netherlands and Hungary also voiced reservations and the 28 leaders mandated European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who chairs EU summits, to hold consultations on a slate of candidates for senior positions and a policy agenda for the next European Commission, Merkel told reporters.

The aim was to wrap up the contentious appointments before the summer break, she said. EU leaders next meet on June 26-27.

Merkel's centre-right European People's Party won the most seats in the 751-member EU legislature but no party has a clear majority. She paid lip service to Juncker's candidacy for the top job but said other outcomes were possible.

"As a member of the EPP, I supported Jean-Claude Juncker as our candidate for the presidency of the Euroepan Commission and I haven't forgotten that. But I still have to respect the treaty,» she told a news conference, rebuffing questions from German reporters about breaking her word to voters.

The Lisbon treaty governing the EU says leaders have to «take into account» the election results but does not specify that they have to nominate the so-called «Spitzenkandidat» of the biggest party as Commission president.

Asked whether she was willing to outvote Cameron, she said it was important to preserve the good working atmosphere of the European Council of EU leaders, especially in times of crisis.

With far-right, anti-EU parties sweeping to unprecedented victories in France, Britain and Denmark and populists gaining ground elsewhere, the leaders faced tough questions about the future direction of European integration.

Drawing initial lessons from a bruising election, which handed a quarter of all parliament seats to Eurosceptic or protest parties, several leaders said they would seek ways to reorient the EU's work to make it more relevant to citizens.

"The first thing we have to do is to formulate an answer,» said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose liberal party came fourth, one place behind the anti-Islam Freedom Party, in the Netherlands.

"As far as I'm concerned, that answer contains fewer rules and less fuss from Europe, and focusing Europe on where it can add value to things,» he said.

Cameron, whose Conservatives were beaten into third place behind the triumphant UKIP and the Labour opposition, said the EU needed to reform itself radically,

"The European Union cannot just shrug off these results and carry on as before,» he said. «We need change. We need an approach that recognises that Europe should concentrate on what matters, on growth and jobs, and not try to do so much."

Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi all focussed on reviving the economy, but it remains to be seen if they can find common ground on how.

Hollande and Renzi want a softening of budget austerity to allow more public investment to boost growth. Merkel said it was essential to improve Europe's competitiveness while maintaining fiscal discipline and creating conditions for investment.

The leaders also discussed the situation in Ukraine, pledging to support newly elected President Petro Poroshenko and warning Russia that they could still step up economic sanctions if it took further actions to destabilise Eastern Ukraine.

Merkel said Moscow had sent some positive signals since Poroshenko's election on Sunday and it should act to seal its border with Ukraine to prevent any supplies reaching separatist rebels in the Russian-speaking east of the country.

Hollande, weakened by his Socialist party's crushing defeat by the far-right National Front in the European election, joined Cameron's call for the EU to step back from citizens' lives.

"Europe has to listen to what happened in France,» he said. If the bloc were unable to revive growth and help create jobs for the unemployed, there would be even bigger votes against the EU in the years to come, he said.

Leaders agreed the next Commission would concentrate on boosting the competitiveness of EU economies while furthering development of Europe's monetary union, a common energy and climate policy and a common foreign policy, Merkel said.

While Cameron is adamant that more powers should be returned to national capitals and wants the phrase «ever closer union» dropped from the EU's treaty, treaty change is very unlikely.

Seeking to force the leaders' hand, the heads of the main pro-European parliamentary groups met before the summit and mandated Juncker to lead talks to try to find a majority for his bid to head the Commission. Van Rompuy will consult with him.

The nominee must be approved by a majority in parliament. Some diplomats fear lawmakers could reject any candidate who did not stand in the parliament election, opening the way for a protracted period of institutional fighting. [Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday May 28, 2014 (12:59)  
Europe waits for proposals from Athens
Notes provide more clues on prison breakout scheme
Drug prices are falling but volume sold remains high
Tsipras plays down chance of rift
ECB’s Constancio signals Greek waiver may end if program dropped
Vitor Constancio signaled that the European Central Bank stands ready to end its acceptance of Greece’s junk-rated debt for bank funding if the government drops out of an aid program. If a n...
Greece starts countdown to cash crunch saying bailout over
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis set the clock ticking on Greece’s standoff with the euro area on Friday saying he’s ready to take his chances without a financial backstop rather than submi...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Panathinaikos preserves perfect home record
After yet another great performance at home, Panathinaikos defeated Galatasaray 86-77 in Athens on Friday to get to three wins in five games at the Euroleague top-16. The Greek champion shoo...
SOCCER
Gattuso: Unpaid OFI players couldn´t buy food
Former coach Gennaro Gattuso has lifted the lid on the plight of crisis-club OFI Crete which has been banned from playing in the Super League until it clears mounting debts with its staff. T...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Unyielding truth
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’s recent statement that “growth does not mean having Porsche Cayennes in the narrow streets of Greece” has made something of an impression and is now being ...
EDITORIAL
This is not a game
Greece’s negotiations with its partners and creditors must be conducted in such a way as to safeguard the country’s real economy, a vital sector which prior to the elections had appeared to ...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Europe waits for proposals from Athens
2. Notes provide more clues on prison breakout scheme
3. Drug prices are falling but volume sold remains high
4. Tsipras plays down chance of rift
5. Ex-revenues chief Theoharis claimes political interference
6. Journalist to head Greece´s National Intelligence Service
more news
Today
This Week
1. US to work closely with Greece and EU to resolve differences, says White House
2. Merkel rejects debt writedown for Greece
3. Greek bank debt plummets as investors head for the exit
4. Greek markets plunge as SYRIZA digs in on challenge to austerity
5. Tsipras says Greece to repay ECB, IMF, reach deal with euro area
6. Greece seeks EU allies but Germany holds firm
Today
This Week
1. Greek Elections 2015 | LIVE
2. SYRIZA heads for historic victory but without majority
3. SYRIZA's win will test institutions
4. Greek Elections 2015: The day after | LIVE
5. EU must accept that Greek debt relief is inevitable
6. Athens may veto further EU sanctions against Russia
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.