News / Europe

Juncker Elected President of European Commission

Designated president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker attends a debate on his election at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, July 15, 2014.
Designated president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker attends a debate on his election at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, July 15, 2014.
Lisa Bryant

The executive arm of the European Union will soon have a new chief.

Jean-Claude Juncker, longtime prime minister of Luxembourg, earned the endorsement of European lawmakers in an overwhelming vote Tuesday in Strasbourg, France. He takes the post over from Jose Manuel Barroso on November 1.   

Addressing parliament shortly before the vote, Juncker vowed to work with European lawmakers, champion the euro, and meet challenges ahead that range from instability in Ukraine to minimum wage for Europeans.  

As European Commission president, he will hold the most powerful EU job, heading a body that deals with European Union laws and international trade agreements and oversees national budgets.

Juncker, 59, is a known quantity in Europe. Besides being Luxembourg's prime minister of nearly two decades, he headed the group of countries using the euro currency.

But the French Institute for International Relations Brussels office head Vivien Pertusot says in that some ways, Juncker will start with a clean slate.

"When you come to Brussels, people talk to you differently.  Because you are not a head of state, you are not the president of the eurogroup any longer," Pertusot said. "So now you become the president of the European Commission. So you become an ally on some occasions and a rival on some other occasions."

One of the first challenges facing Juncker is dealing with a skeptical Britain. Last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron, along with Hungary's leader, rejected his nomination as commission chief.  

Cameron has promised to hold a 2017 referendum on leaving the European Union, and on Tuesday he named a staunch euro skeptic, Philip Hammond, as Britain's new foreign secretary.

"Jean-Claude Juncker is probably not an enemy of Britain," Pertusot said. "And he has been quite clear about the fact that he may want to be keen in trying to find a way for Britain to stay in.  Whether it is going to be possible remains to be seen and a lot depends on the UK's attitude."

The head of the Brussels-based European Policy Centre, Fabian Zuleeg, says Juncker faces a number of other big challenges.

"Be it the internal issues around the legitimacy of the European Union and the rise of populist, anti-establishment parties; be it the external situation with the question of how Europe deals with the Russia and Ukraine situation; be it the lack of growth and the need to generate jobs," said Zuleeg. "So it is a very full agenda. It is very difficult for the commission to tackle these. What we really need is the political will of the member states."

Juncker is only part of a larger job reshuffle in Brussels. European leaders meet Wednesday in Brussels to discuss other EU nominations, including the successor to European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs