Is Juncker on his way out of race?
A senior aide to Herman von Rompuy has briefed Der Spiegel that he expects Jean-Claude Juncker “to decide to withdraw if criticism continues”.
That is, a Brussels source suggested, at least in part a bit of pressure being applied to Mr Juncker, not necessarily an attempt by the European Council president to read Mr Juncker’s mind. Either way it’ll be music to David Cameron’s ears.
The work on a “programme” for the next Commission president signed up to by Angela Merkel and others is widely seen as an attempt to draw up a pro-reform job ad which Mr Juncker couldn’t fit (in some people’s eyes, after the job has already been given to him).
The knifing of Jean-Claude Juncker took a significant step yesterday when Italian Premier Renzi sounded less than enthralled by the idea of the former Luxembourg premier taking the top job. It is now properly under way and spreading wide beyond the UK and its openly acknowledged fellow critics: Hungary, Sweden and the Dutch.
Doubts about Mr Juncker always went further than that foursome but figures like Angela Merkel were boxed in by a public commitment to the idea of fixed candidates for the two main European Parliament groupings. Other EU capitals talk of how Mrs Merkel was convinced the Socialists would win the elections to the parliament so she wouldn’t have to be a party to killing of Mr Juncker.
If Mr Juncker goes soon we may never know what those journalists he said were up trees outside house hounding him ever found out. He had a hounded look about him yesterday as he was chased by British tv journalists around Brussels. But he was still schmoozing and he and his team are not thought to be ready to throw in the towel. It looks like Herman von Rompuy’s team is suggesting they should start getting their heads round the idea.
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