European Union: President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker

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Jean-Claude Juncker began his political career in Luxembourg in 1974 as a member of the center-right Christian Social Party.  Juncker was soon successful in gaining a seat in Parliament.  Throughout his tenure he gained renown within the European Union.  In 1984 Juncker secured his first ministerial job aboard the cabinet of Prime Minister Jacques Santer. In 1989 Juncker was promoted again to Luxembourg’s minister of finance.  Juncker continued his political ascent in 1992, becoming leader of the Christian Social Party.  Finally, Juncker was elected Prime Minister of Luxembourg in 1995. As Prime Minister, Juncker had a self-described red streak that he credits with making his policies amenable to European socialists.  In 2005 Juncker joined the ranks of the eurogroup, the committee of finance ministers charged with determining austerity measures and bailout policies during the eurozone crisis of 2008.  Junker served as Prime Minister until 2013.

In 2014 Jean-Claude Juncker was selected as the center-right European People’s Party’s candidate to replace José Manuel Barroso as the European Union’s President of the European Commission.  Juncker won the presidency despite ardent opposition from David Cameron and the United Kingdom, who opposed both Juncker himself and the process through which he was elected.  Juncker was elected through the Spitzenkandidat, or lead candidate, election process, which aims to give the European Commission a more human, relevant face.  Cameron opposed the move away from the close-door process of selecting a unanimously supported candidate.  President Juncker has been described as a federalist for his support of deeper E.U. integration; however, he has countered that he has no desire to see an “E.U. super state”.  Juncker has advocated for a single, digital E.U. market and has strongly defended the euro.  Juncker also strongly supports the Common Agriculture Policy, although the program has been critiqued for wasting funds. Finally, Juncker has pushed for a free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States; however, he has not outlined how that agreement could coexist with current E.U. protection policies.

Leading up to the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Juncker expressed the importance of discussing trade. During the summit, Juncker presented data regarding trade, and while many leaders have expressed frustration about the tariffs Trump has implemented, Juncker has recognized the importance of maintaining open communication with the US to achieve a solution. Juncker made a proposal at the summit to visit Washington to discuss and assess US and EU trade. At the summit prior to the trade discussions Juncker stated, We will discuss trade this afternoon. It is not only about America first but about European unity first. This is what we will show today. […] On trade, we will explain the facts and figures, why the EU is an ally, and not a national security threat to the US. We want to continue talks with the US but will not negotiate with the colt pointed at our head.

In joint statement released by Tusk and Juncker last year, they stated the key issues they would be discussing at the G20 Summit in Hamburg. The central issues they discussed in this statement will likely make a reappearance at the G20 Summit this year in Buenos Aires. These issues include “the G20’s key role in making the global economy work for all,” advocating for a multilateral trade system, showing that climate action is beneficial for economies, “tapping the potential of the digital revolution, creating new strategies to combat tax evasion, fighting terrorism, increasing economic resiliency, “sharing responsibility for refugees and migrants,” and creating partnerships with Africa to spur economic growth. They will issue a statement prior to the G20 Summit in Argentina, and it is likely to include such goals, especially regarding the importance of an open economy, in light of Trump’s tariffs and their effect on Europe.

“One shouldn’t pursue the wrong policies just because one is afraid of not being reelected. Those who intend to govern have to take responsibility for their countries and for Europe as a whole. This means, if need be, that they have to pursue the right policies, even if many voters think they are the wrong ones.”

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