5 July 2014, 16:59

Cameron hostage of his strategy to renegotiate terms of UK membership in EU - expert

Jean-Claude Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker

Jean-Claude Juncker

The former prime minister of Luxemburgh who initiated the EU integration process and the introduction of a single European currency, Jean Claude Juncker, was elected as a new head of European Commission. His election prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to threaten to withdraw the United Kingdom from the EU.

Fedor Lukyanov, chairman of the Russian Centre for Foreign and Defense Policy, was very optimistic about Mr. Juncker's appointment, pointing out that he is well-known in Moscow. "He enjoys quite a high degree of respect among the Russian politicians and all those who deal with the foreign policy. Being the Prime Minister of Luxemburg, he visited Moscow many times and we used to have very solid, balanced and positive relationship with Luxemburg.

As for his views on how the EU should look like, his federalist views, I don’t think it is an obstacle or any problem for Moscow, because it is anyway up to the EU leadership to decide what kind of design they prefer. If the EU will be more consolidated, which I frankly doubt, I don’t think that Mr. Juncker will be very successful in that, but if so, then actually for any outside partner it will be in a way easier to deal with them, because now a lot of problems are dictated by a total inability of the EU to take any decisions," he said.

Nadezhda Arbatova, head of the Department of European Political Studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), said that David Cameron most likely became a hostage of his own strategy. "He wanted to renegotiate the terms of the UK membership in the EU and to call some powers back from Brussels. That’s why he was fearful that a person like Juncker, who is a devoted European professional and who make a big leap towards a new federation, will destroy his plans.

But I think that it is a wrong perception and it is a wrong strategy, because Juncker is a very experienced, cautious and skillful politician. And although he is a devoted pro-EU professional, he fully understands all the problems on the way towards a new federation and he fully understands that today there can only be a combination of different integrationist methods – intergovernmental and federalist approaches to the European integration.

So, I think that David Cameron was wrong and in a way he has cornered himself, because his idea was to renegotiate the terms of the UK membership in the EU and to offer this renegotiated agenda to the referendum in the UK. And now, he is fearful that his plans will be destroyed. But I think that Juncker is a very wise and flexible politician. And he will try to bridge the gap between the UK and Brussels," she said.

Sorren Liborious, spokesman for the EU mission in Russia, praised Mr. Juncker, calling him a very experienced politician. "We have to see that the Lisbon treaty procedures now for the first time are played out. And what some people consider as a terrible infight and it is unclear, actually, this is a balancing of different political groupings. And this process whereby Mr. Juncker is nominated by the European Council, meaning the heads of states and governments of the EU member states, and then he will go through confirmation vote on the 15th of July in the European Parliament. This is the procedure that is foreseen.

So, Mr. Juncker will also bring a strong democratic legitimacy. We have seen since, for example, on the 15th of May, when the elections for the European Parliament ended, that it was a very exciting process. There was a lot of political discussion. Nobody would have predicted the outcome. And this is democracy at work. So, while, of course, the EU develops every day and the situation now is significantly different as opposed to where it was, say, 8 years ago, when Juncker was the Prime Minister in Luxemburg.

But still, the EU is a gigantic compromise mechanism. And during the next half a year we will see the commission’s new people. The new commissioners will take up office by the 1st of November. We will see the old commission going out. We will also see the change on the position of the permanent chairman of the European Council. Herman Van Rompuy will end his mandate in the end of November. So, we are seeing all these new people coming and it is a reflection of democracy," he said.

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