Will Cameron still fight against Juncker to the end?

As PM Cameron said that he would fight to the end against Juncker’s nomination it sounds a bit desperately? So would you say that Cameron will really fight to the end and will try everything to stop Juncker or not, and why? Read few comments.

Mike ManninJean Monnet Chair in European Politics, University of Portsmouth

Cameron’s political space for manoeuvre over EU issues is narrower than other PMs in recent history.  The seeming success story of  UKIP which has been supported by  the right-wing press and a disillusioned electorate   easily leads towards simple explanations for voters feelings of economic vulnerability. thus the  thus the  ” answer” is  to blame immigrants for loss of jobs, and overstretched UK health service, housing problems etc .  Countering this is  the position of business and other economic interests  that are advising in a less strident manner, that the position currently taken by the government will be detrimental to British interests if it ends in exit from the EU.

There is therefore , a fine line being walked by Cameron  between winning back voters for the 2015 election that have indicated their interest  UKIP and achieving results in EU  Council negotiations that are in Britain’s best interests i.e. a reformed institutional structure .

There is every chance that Junkers will be the next commission president . In order to save face and maximise the opportunities for winning back votes , Cameron must therefore deliver to the British press and voter ,   an advantage to Britain from the situation . This will almost certainly be by  achieving the appointment of a British candidate for a high profile portfolio in the commission plus at least some agreement that the reform path will be conducive to British expectations . He will then report that he has brought back a deal that strengthens Britain’s position in the EU . This may or may not be reported in the British press as a success.   So in answer to your question Cameron will nominally  ” fight to the end ” in the British press, but when the end comes will shift the battleground towards other seeming successes in order not to appear a total failure as an EU negotiator.

This has happened previously: the best example is John Major’s return from the Maastricht negotiations claiming   “game set and match” having won some limited concessions.

Anthony ZitoProfessor of European Public Policy, Co-director of the Jean Monnet Centre, Newcastle University, Newcastle University

David Cameron has a difficult balancing act in terms of opposing Juncker’s selection.  He has promised the UK electorate and his own backbenchers and party that he will work hard to change the direction of the EU. So he certainly has to be seen in the eyes of these constituencies as continuing the opposition to Juncker, who is perceived as a pro-integrationist in the UK, to the bitter end.  However, as Cameron will desperately need allies to make any changes to the EU rules of the game, he needs to avoid alienating various potential allies, most particularly Merkel who supports Juncker. Consequently Cameron has to be  careful not to appear too obstructive and difficult within the closed confines of the meetings on the Commission nominations. This is only one battle in a substantial campaign to keep the UK in the EU.

Jost-Henrik Morgenstern, Postgraduate Researcher, Loughborough University

I assume Cameron has highlighted this ‘fight to the end’ repeatedly to build up the image of a tough negotiator in Brussels for his home audience and in an attempt to shore up his negotiating position. But it appears as if the hardening of his stance wasn’t accompanied by the ability to sway other member states. The nomination of the Commission president doesn’t necessarily require unanimity and as far as we know Cameron doesn’t have the votes to credibly threaten blocking Juncker.

Cameron also couldn’t really do a volte-face in light of the aggressive British press and his increasingly eurosceptic party, so his best option is to use this to extract the best deal out of the negotiations. Among the ideas floated was a big Commissioner post or even substantive concessions on EU policy. Already a few days ago you could spot the first signs of back-pedalling in the British debate, stating that the nomination of Juncker for the job of course did not mean an immediate referendum in the UK.

So I would expect more noise in the build up to the European Council meeting, but I am not convinced Cameron is in a position to stop Juncker.

Alex Warleigh-LackProfessor, The School of Politics, University of Surrey

I think you’re right. Cameron’s stance on this has been ignorant, or stupid, or both. As far as I can see, it’s the result of the success of UKIP in the EP elections; he’s tried to do a Bruce Willis, and it’s flopped. It’s quite possible that he hadn’t understood the need for a blocking minority in the Council – despite the presence of some great advisers in our Foreign Office, UK politicians are often completely unaware of some of the ways in which the EU works, even on big issues like the appointment of the Commission President. Even if he thought he could get the support to block Juncker in the Council, I think he failed to grasp the determination of the Parliament to force the Spitzenkandidaten process through. He’s paid the price for taking the Tories out of the EPP, which meant he had no influence over the EPP candidate selection.   He would have been much better advised to focus on the candidate for the Council Presidency, where he might have got some support, not least if he’d earned some credit for not dragging out the process with the Commission.

 

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One Response

  1. […] somewhat belated follow up on Cameron and his Juncker policy on Matisak’s blog here, but also something more forward-looking on how new the new EP will be. Let’s hope it […]

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