David Cameron is today pleading with European leaders to drop their support for Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission. In an article published in a series of newspapers across Europe, the Prime Minister argues that the EU needs ‘bold leadership – people ready to heed voters’ concerns and to confront the challenges Europe faces’. While claiming that his critique of the way spitzenkandidaten are chosen is ‘not an attack on Mr Juncker, an experienced European politician’, his article is quite clear that Juncker does not meet the job description as Cameron sees it.
Cameron wants to set himself up as one of the few European leaders who is listening to the people of Europe after the elections last month. He writes that voters ‘sent a clear message’, that they are ‘disillusioned’ and ‘are demanding change so it focuses on what they care about: growth and jobs’. And what Cameron thinks voters want sounds suspiciously like his vision for Europe:
‘And they want the EU to help them, not dictate to them. This was clear through the rise of anti-EU parties; the fall in turnout in the majority of countries; and the decline in support for the European Parliament’s largest political groups.
‘The question now for Europe’s leaders is: how do we respond to this message? The results should be a wake-up call for leaders across Europe. The future of the EU is at stake. It must either change or accept further decline. Britain’s position is clear: we want the EU to succeed. To uphold liberty, peace and democracy across our continent and to spur prosperity.’
The question is whether Cameron claiming he’s on the side of the European people goes down well with the leaders he is trying to persuade, or irritates them by appearing patronising. But one thing’s for sure: the Prime Minister is going to leave no stone unturned in his quest to block Juncker.
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