17:24 Friday 27th June 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[C]HRIS MANN: Despite David Cameron strongly objecting, EU leaders have gone ahead and nominated Jean-Claude Juncker to be the next European Commission President. Arriving in Brussels earlier, the Prime Minister set out why he believes the former PM of Luxembourg is the wrong man for the job.
DAVID CAMERON: It is not right for the elected heads of government of the European countries to give up their right to nominate the head of the European Commission, the most important role in Europe. That is a bad principle, and it’s the wrong person. Jean-Claude Juncker has been at the heart of the project to increase the power of Brussels and reduce the power of nation states for his entire working life. He is not the right person to take this organisation forward.
CHRIS MANN: Well our Europe Correspondent Duncan Crawford is in Brussels.
DUNCAN CRAWFORD: Well despite David Cameron’s opposition, EU leaders have nominated Jean-Claude Juncker to be the next European Commission President. The former Prime Minister of Luxembourg will be the man who represents the EU on the world stage. There was a vote on David Cameron’s insistence, and according to Downing Street the vote was 26 to 2. So David Cameron almost completely isolated. the Hungarians also voting against Mr Juncker. I should say a news conference is just starting right now, with the European Council President Herman van Rompuy speaking. Let me just fade up and have a listen to what he’s saying here. Might be interesting. If not we’ll fade back out of it.
HERMAN VON RUMPOY: .. I have had with the members of the European Council and with the main groups of the European Parliament. It is expected that the Parliament will vote on our proposed candidate on 16th of July. That very evening the European Council is planning to reconvene to discuss other top nominations. In the meantime, I have been asked ..
DUNCAN CRAWFORD: OK. Well basically what Herman van Rompuy is saying there, just to clarify, that date, July 16th, that’s going to be the date on which the European Parliament are going to vote on Jean-Claude Juncker. And as he was put forward by the biggest group in the European Parliament, we are expecting them to confirm that nomination.
CHRIS MANN: Strange that the Prime Minister should insist on a vote. It’s almost to accentuate the fact that he’s David No Mates, well almost no mates, isn’t he?
DUNCAN CRAWFORD: Well exactly. But from the Prime Minister’s perspective I think it was clear quite a while ago now that he was going to lose here. But he basically wanted to make this point of principle, that he’d basically rather go down fighting, swinging, than to just try to make some deal with other EU leaders. And I think this all plays in somewhat to his promise to hold a referendum in 2017, an in/out referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU. David Cameron trying to make a point to the voters, I think, but also to backbenchers in the Tory Party, Eurosceptics, that he’s a man who keeps his word when it comes to fighting on issues of principle in the EU.
CHRIS MANN: But still it shows his isolation. It also shows the fact that he really could do nothing to change things. And already here in Britain UKIP have seized on that politically. It’s a tricky one for the Prime Minister, at the very least.
DUNCAN CRAWFORD: Yes, and his critics are saying, and will say, that he hasn’t had a strategy, that he hasn’t been clever here, that he’s used up a lot of political capital, and he’s basically gone around shouting and talking about how Jean-Claude Juncker’s not the right man for the EU. But he hasn’t built up alliances, which is what you need to do in Europe, to try and get anything done. So he will be criticised for that, and some will say he hasn’t furthered the British interest because he’s basically not played his cards correctly.
CHRIS MANN: That’s Duncan Crawford there in Brussels with the latest on the row over the new head of the European Commission.