The press – and, whisper it closely, the broadcast media too – has outdone itself with reporting the appointment of former Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission (EC), and in the worst kind of way. Even the Guardian, to its detriment, has pretended that this pushes the UK closer to the exit door, and no examination of Young Dave’s shortcomings is made.
What has happened? The largest groupings in the European Parliament (EP) have put forward their preferred candidate for head of the EC, with Juan Manuel Barroso stepping down this time. The largest single grouping, the EPP (the Tories were formerly part of this group, but have recently broken away), proposed Juncker. Others joined in with this recommendation.
Cameron stood opposed, and declared that he would force a vote, suggesting that others were also opposed. Sadly, when that vote was taken, he was in a minority of two (the Hungarian PM cast the other dissenting vote). Dave wanted us to know that having Juncker in post would mean he could not get his reform proposals through. This, sad to say, is weapons grade bullshit.
Moreover, the media could, and should, have seen this and pressed him on it. I will explain: the BBC has helpfully given us a diagrammatic representation of the EU’s power structure. The EC has its priorities set by the 28 national leaders, and is scrutinised by the EP, which can – and has in the past – removed the Commission if it is not up to the task. The EC cannot work independently of the EP.
And it is the EP which passes laws, along with the Council of Ministers, not the EC. The EC is, in effect, the heads of the European Civil Service. Would Westminster politicians get so het up over the appointment of the head of the Civil Service? Would they argue over that person’s politics? No, of course not: the Civil Service is there to support elected representatives. Thus it is in the EU.
Were Cameron to agree a package of reforms with other heads of Government, then this could be fed in to the EC. The presence of Juncker as head would change nothing; if that was what the Commission was directed to do, that would be that. So where is Dave’s package of reforms? Ah well. As far as is known, Cameron has thus far merely sounded off about that, rather than actually doing something about it.
Just think what he could have achieved, had he used the goodwill among other EU leaders to put together a package of reforms around which agreement could be formed – rather than spraying the goodwill up the wall by throwing a needless mardy strop. And those telling that the UK is in a weak position inside the EU, remember this: leaving would not make it any stronger. Just the opposite, in fact.
To quote Cameron’s favourite phrase, he is weak, weak, weak. So is the UK’s press.