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European Union

Jean-Claude Juncker nominated new European Commission President despite UK opposition

European leaders have formally proposed former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker as the new President of the European Commission. Britain and Hungary maintained their opposition to Juncker's appointment.

Defeat for Cameron: Junker gets the job

The 28 leaders of the EU voted 26-2 in Juncker's favor in Brussels on Friday, with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy confirming the nomination via Twitter.

Going into the EU meeting in Brussels, British Prime Minister David Cameron continued to state his position that Jean-Claude Juncker was the "the wrong person" for the EU's top job.

"I know the odds are stacked against me, but it doesn't mean you change your mind," Cameron said on Friday. Only Hungary from the other 27 EU member states was also opposing Juncker.

Speaking on public radio, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he would not support the decision to appoint Juncker as the next EU Commission President: "There is a bad practice in Brussels, which is called sneaking treaty change," Orban said. "Issues are being wrestled from member states, which, under the treaty, clearly belong to member states."

Orban had previously clashed with the EU over bank taxes and land reform in Hungary: "Hungary has suffered a lot because of this," Orban said.

"We need to send a clear signal and a warning that we must stick to our national interests. And the British think the same," Orban said.

The British government has been seeking to improve its standing in Britain following the strong showing of the anti-EU, UKIP party in the May European and local elections. Cameron has spoken of "wafer thin" support for the EU in Britain and that Juncker's appointment would increase support for a British exit from the EU.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been trying to soothe the process and play down the consequences of the vote: "It's no drama if we have to vote, and I don't think it's a drama if the vote isn't unanimous in this case," she said on arrival at a summit of Christian Democrat and conservative leaders in in the Flanders city of Kortrijk on Thursday.

Finnish PM Alexander Stubb called on Britain on Friday to "wake up and smell the coffee" and stop opposing the European Union.

jm/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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