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Press Review

Juncker's nomination, Cameron's defeat

"A bad day for Europe" is how UK Prime Minister David Cameron described Juncker's nomination for President of the European Commission. It was a bad day for Cameron himself at least, as a glance into the press shows.

UK reaction

"Britain nears EU exit," writes UK national newspaper "The Times." Most of the other British papers have adopted a similar perspective. But the opinions differ as to whether the European Union or the British prime minister is to blame.

The "Daily Mirror" talks of Cameron's "humiliation," saying that "David Cameron wanted to pose as the Lone Ranger of Brussels going down in a blaze of glory in a principled battle over the EU. (...) His humiliation was another reminder of the terrible judgment that has damaged Mr Cameron at home and abroad."

Cameron had spoken out openly against Jean-Claude Juncker's candidacy for European Commission President. The UK's liberal-left "Independent" also considers the Luxembourg native to be the wrong man for the job. It writes that Juncker's candidacy "aroused enthusiasm among very few, even in the upper ranks of the Eurocrats. He is a walking, talking symbol of all that is out of date and out of touch about the union as currently constituted."

The editorial goes on to criticize Cameron for contributing to Juncker's ascent to power, stating that "in a spectacular display of political miscalculation, Mr Cameron converted that indifference and dislike into reluctant but almost total support" and concluding that "if there was any real strategic thinking behind yesterday's pratfall, it was hard to spot it."

David Cameron, center, walks to a media conference after an EU summit in Brussels on June 27, 2014
(Photo: AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Cameron has been criticized for his approach to Juncker

On the other hand, "The Times" implies that Cameron's hard stance has strengthened the British position: "The appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker is bad for the EU. David Cameron was right to oppose it to the bitter end."

Daily tabloid "The Sun" also remains patriotic and supportive of Cameron. "Cam: We're at war with EU," it writes.

Mixed response in Germany

Some German papers see Cameron's actions as a slip-up. The northern German "Hannoversche Allgemeine" daily writes, "It may be that his 'no' to Juncker and his concept of Europe resonates well with English EU opponents. But with his stubborn opposition, Cameron has turned himself into a hostage of his domestic political critics without solving any of his country's many problems."

Some, however, express understanding towards Cameron's stance - including the "Freie Presse" from eastern Germany. "Juncker, once dubbed 'Mr. Euro,' has his best times behind him and appears worn out. The 59-year-old is more a part of the EU establishment and not suited to the role of reformer. And everyone in Europe knows that the man from Luxembourg only pushed for the post of Commission President because he had been toppled in his home country over the secret service scandal, which cost him his domestic political career."

For the western German "Rheinische Post," Britain's possible exit from the EU will put Juncker's skills to a real test. "Europe will only be able to remain strong in the next five years if its countries can progress at their own pace. (…) London will try to switch its membership to 'light' or make a full exit. The latter would be bad for the EU and for the British. Therefore, Juncker's big task is to prevent this move, but without neglecting the necessary integration measures."

Critical European voices

Jean-Claude Juncker
(Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa)

Juncker has emerged victorious, despite British and Hungarian opposition

A reserved to skeptical response can also be found in other European newspapers. "De Telegraaf," the Netherlands' largest daily, writes, "The decision to select Juncker was presented as a decision in favor of a democratic candidate. But ,in reality, the man is a representative of the European balloon that will be inflated until it bursts. Will the British pierce this balloon now? Or will it happen because of the euro?"

Hungary's conservative daily "Magyar Nemzet" reflects Hungary's overall negative stance towards his European Commission candidacy. "Cameron's fierce opposition towards federalist Juncker is understandable, since it was the EU-hostile party UKIP that won the British vote in the European Parliament elections," writes the paper. "Even if [radical nationalist Hungarian party] Jobbik is not as strong in Hungary as UKIP is in Britain, the general position in Hungary towards the EU is a critical one, to put it mildly."

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