Jean-Claude Juncker

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Jean-Claude Juncker
Ioannes Claudius Juncker die 7 Martis 2014.jpg
Prime Minister of Luxembourg
In office
20 January 1995 – 4 December 2013
Monarch Jean
Deputy Jacques Poos
Lydie Polfer
Jean Asselborn
Preceded by Jacques Santer
Succeeded by Xavier Bettel
President of the Eurogroup
In office
1 January 2005 – 21 January 2013
Preceded by New Office
Succeeded by Jeroen Dijsselbloem
Minister for Finances
In office
14 July 1989 – 23 July 2009
Prime Minister Jacques Santer
Preceded by Jacques Santer
Succeeded by Luc Frieden
Personal details
Born (1954-12-09) 9 December 1954 (age 59)
Redange, Luxembourg
Political party Christian Social People's Party
Spouse(s) Christiane Frising
Alma mater University of Strasbourg
Religion Roman Catholicism

Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourgish pronunciation: [ʒ̊ɑːŋ kloːd ˈjʊŋkɐ];[1] born 9 December 1954) is a Luxembourgish politician who was Prime Minister of Luxembourg from 20 January 1995 to 4 December 2013. By the time he left office, he was the longest-serving head of government of any European Union state and one of the longest-serving democratically elected leaders in the world.[2] He was President of the Eurogroup from the creation of the semi-permanent position in 2005 until 2013.

Elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the Christian Social People's Party in 1984, Juncker was immediately promoted to Jacques Santer's cabinet as Minister for Work. He was Luxembourg's Minister for Finances from 1989 to 2009, and became Prime Minister when Santer became President of the European Commission in 1995. In his capacity of Prime Minister, he also served two six-month terms as President of the European Council, in 1997 and 2005.

In July 2013, Juncker's coalition government was brought down by a scandal involving the country's intelligence agency.[3] As a result, a snap election was held in October in which Juncker sought a fifth term.[4][5] While his party won a plurality of seats, the opposition formed a majority coalition, and Juncker left office on 4 December 2013.

In March 2014, at the Congress of the European People's Party celebrated in Dublin, Juncker was elected as the candidate of this party to become the President of the European Commission after the European parliamentary elections in May 2014. For the first time, this post will be elected depending on the result of the Pan-European election.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Juncker was born in Redange and spent most of his childhood in Belvaux. His father had fought in World War II after being forcibly recruited into the Wehrmacht, and was a steelworker and a member of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions. Juncker studied at Clairefontaine in Belgium before returning to Luxembourg to attain his baccalaureate in the Lycée Michel Rodange. Around that time, in 1974, he joined the Christian Social People's Party. Juncker went on to study law at the University of Strasbourg, attaining a Master of Law degree in 1979. Although he was sworn into the Luxembourg Bar Council in 1980, he never practised as a lawyer.

Early political career[edit]

Juncker returned to Luxembourg, and his oratorical skills earned him a promotion to the position of Parliamentary Secretary. He earned election to the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg for the first time in 1984 and immediately took the office of Minister for Labour under Jacques Santer. This led to a chairpersons' role at a number of meetings of the Council of the European Communities, where Juncker's pro-Europe credentials first emerged.

Shortly before the 1989 election, Juncker was seriously injured in a road traffic accident, spending two weeks in a coma. He nonetheless recovered in time to be returned to the Chamber of Deputies once more, picking up the Finance portfolio along with his Ministry of Labour post. The Ministry of Finance post is traditionally seen as a rite of passage to the premiership of the country, and his eventual promotion to Prime Minister seemed at this time inevitable, with political commentators concluding that Santer was grooming Juncker as his heir. Juncker at this time accepted the position of Governor of the World Bank.

Ascent to premiership[edit]

Juncker's second election to Parliament saw him gain prominence in the European Union. Juncker chaired the Council of Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN), becoming a key architect of the Maastricht Treaty. Juncker was largely responsible for clauses on economic and monetary union (the process that would eventually give rise to the Euro) and was himself a signatory to the treaty in 1992, by which time he had taken over as parliamentary leader of the Christian Social People's Party.

Juncker was re-elected to the Chamber in 1994, maintaining both his ministerial roles. With Jacques Santer ready to be nominated as the next President of the European Commission, it was only six months later, on 20 January 1995, that Grand Duke Jean approved the appointment of Juncker as Prime Minister, as part of a coalition with the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party. Juncker relinquished his post at the World Bank at this time (swapping it for governorship of the International Monetary Fund) but maintained his former ministerial positions; he was now the Minister of State, of Labour and Employment and of the Treasury.

Prime Minister of Luxembourg[edit]

Juncker with the Prime Minister of Italy Mario Monti on 27 June 2012

Juncker's first term as Prime Minister was focused on an economic platform of international bilateral ties to improve Luxembourg's profile abroad, which included a number of official visits abroad. During one such visit, to Dublin in December 1996, Juncker successfully mediated a dispute over his own EU Economic and Monetary Union policy between French president Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.[citation needed] The press dubbed Juncker the Hero of Dublin for achieving an unlikely consensus between the two.[citation needed]

Juncker with the then Prime Minister of France François Fillon on 29 October 2009

1997 brought the rotating Presidency of the European Council to Luxembourg for the first time in Juncker's administration. Juncker championed the cause of social integration in Europe, along with constituting the so-called "Luxembourg Process" for integrated European policy against unemployment. He also instigated the "Euro 11", an informal group of European finance ministers for matters regarding his Economic and Monetary Union ideals. For all of these initiatives, he was honoured with the Vision for Europe Award in 1998.[citation needed]

Juncker succeeded in winning another term as Prime Minister in the 1999 election, although the coalition with the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party was broken in favour of one with the Democratic Party. After the 2004 elections, the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party became the second largest party again, and Juncker again formed a coalition with them. Shortly after re-election, Juncker found himself misinformed at a European Union summit over the condition of then-ailing Palestinian National Authority leader Yasser Arafat. Juncker mistakenly announced his death prematurely, before retracting the claim citing misunderstanding.

In 2005, Juncker inherited a second term as President of the European Council. Shortly after the expiration of his term came Luxembourg's referendum on ratification, and Juncker staked his political career on its success, promising to resign if the referendum failed. The final result was a 56.5% Yes vote on an 88% turnout. His continued allegiance to European ideals earned him the 2006 Karlspreis. In 2009, he denounced the lifting of the excommunication of controversial bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the Society of Saint Pius X.[7]


On 19 November 2012, RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg aired a story alleging that the former head of the State Intelligence Service (SREL), Marco Mille, had used a wristwatch to covertly record a confidential conversation with Juncker in 2008.[8][9] According to the report, although Juncker had later found out about the recording, he took no action against Mille and allowed him to leave the service in 2010 for a position with Siemens.[8][10] A transcript of the conversation was published by D'Lëtzebuerger Land, which highlighted the disorganised state of the secret service, mentioned links between Grand Duke Henri and MI6 and referred to the "Bommeleeër" scandal.[11][12] On 4 December 2012, the Chamber of Deputies voted to set up a Parliamentary Inquiry into allegations of SREL misconduct including the illegal bugging of politicians, purchase of cars for private use and allegations of taking payments and favours in exchange for access to officials.[13][14] The inquiry heard from witnesses who claimed that SREL had conducted six or seven illegal wiretapping operations between 2007 and 2009, as well as covert operations in Iraq, Cuba and Libya.[15][16] The report concluded that Juncker had to bear political responsibility for SREL's activities, that he had been deficient in his control over the service and that he had failed to report all of the service's irregularities to the enquiry commission.[14][17] Juncker himself denied wrongdoing.[18]

After a seven-hour debate in the Chamber of Deputies on 10 July, the withdrawal of support from the Christian Social People's Party's coalition partner, the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party (LSAP), forced Juncker to agree to new elections.[19] Juncker tendered his resignation to the Grand Duke on 11 July.[14] Alex Bodry, President of LSAP and Chair of the Parliamentary Inquiry into SREL, declared his lack of confidence in Juncker, saying: "We invite the prime minister to take full political responsibility in this context and ask the government to intervene with the head of state to clear the path for new elections."[18] As of 11 July 2013 the Grand Duke had not made public any decision when to dissolve the legislature and call a new election.[14] Juncker has stated he would be keen to lead his party in a forthcoming election if they wish for him to do so.[20]

President of the Eurogroup[edit]

"Monetary policy is a serious issue. We should discuss this in secret,
in the Eurogroup [...] I'm ready to be insulted as being insufficiently
democratic, but I want to be serious [...] I am for secret, dark debates"
— Jean-Claude Juncker, 20 April 2011.[21]

Juncker assumed the presidency of the Eurogroup on 1 January 2005 and stepped down on 21 January 2013, making him longest-serving head of the Eurogroup. It was often suggested in the press that he, like his predecessor Santer, could eventually abandon his position as Prime Minister to assume the presidency of the European Commission. During his last participation in a committee debate in the European Parliament he responded to the suggestion by MEP Hans-Peter Martin, that he "should become the next Commission President" with "Yes", fuelling speculation that he might be a candidate for the role in 2014.[22]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1988 (1988) – Grand Federal Cross of Merit with Star and shoulder ribbon
  • 1988 (1988) – Grand Cross of the Order of Infante Dom Henrique
  • 1998 (1998) – Honorary doctorate from Miami University
  • 1998 (1998) – "Vision for Europe Award" of the Edmond Israel Foundation
  • 1998 (1998) – Award for the future social order "of the CDA-magazine (" Christian-Democratic-labor force "
  • 1998 (1998) – "Médaille d'Or European Order of Merit" (Gold Medal for services to Europe) of the "Fondation European Order of Merit"
  • 1998 (1998) – Golden Duck "of the country's press conference Saar
  • 1999 (1999) – European Crafts Prize 1999 "by the" trade in North Rhine-Westphalia "
  • 2000 (2000) – Insignia de l'Artisanat en Or "(crafts badges in gold) of the Luxembourg Chamber of crafts
  • 2001 (2001) – Honorary Doctor of the University of Münster, Münster
  • 2002 (2002) – Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honor by President Jacques Chirac
  • 2002 (2002) – Cicero-speakers prize
  • 2002 (2002) – Prize of the European Federation of Taxpayers
  • 2003 (2003) – Honorary Doctor of the University of Bucharest
  • 2003 (2003) – Honorary Citizen of the city of Trier.
  • 2003 (2003) – Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania
  • 2003 (2003) – Heinrich Braun Award
  • 2003 (2003) – Maju-media award for quality journalism
  • 2003 (2003) – Quadriga Prize of the European Year of Germany society workshop
  • 2004 (2004) – Honorary Doctor of the Democritus University of Thrace
  • 2004 (2004) – Honorary Citizen of Orestiada surrender of the city of Orestiada key unveiling of a street sign and a street named after the Luxembourg Prime Minister
  • 2004 (2004) – Golden Bandit
  • 2005 (2005) – Walter-Hallstein Prize
  • 2005 (2005) – Europeans of the Year
  • 2005 (2005) – Grand Cross of the Portuguese Order of Christ
  • 2005 (2005) – awarded the Elsie Kuhn-Leitz-prize by the "Association Franco-German companies in Germany and France
  • 2006 (2006) – Européen de l'Année 2005 (European of the Year 2005) of the French press (Trombinoscope)
  • 2006 (2006) – Grand Cross of the Order of the Three Stars (Latvia)
  • 2006 (2006) – International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen
  • 2006 (2006) – European Prize for Political Culture of the Hans Ringier Foundation
  • 2007 (2007) – Foreign Associate Member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences at the Institut de France in place of the late Leopold Sedar Senghor
  • 2007 (2007) – The patron of the non-profit animal protection association "Newfoundlanders in Not eV"
  • 2007 (2007) – St. Liborius Medal for Unity and Peace of the Archdiocese of Paderborn
  • 2007 (2007) – Coudenhove-Kalergi Medal of the European Union Munster
  • 2007 (2007) – Peace Prize of the European Foundation for Ecology and Democracy
  • 2007 (2007) – Honorary Doctor of Robert Schuman University of Strasbourg
  • 2007 (2007) – Honorary Member of the Luxembourg Grand Ducal Institute, Department of Moral and Political Sciences
  • 2008 (2008) – Amilcar Cabral Medal, First Class of the Republic of Cape Verde
  • 2008 (2008) – Sponsorship word for "zeal of the future"
  • 2008 (2008) – German citizenship prize
  • 2008 (2008) – Franz-Josef-Strauss-prize
  • 2008 (2008) – Honorary Doctor of the University of Pittsburgh
  • 2008 (2008) – State Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • 2008 (2008) – sharpest blade (prize of the city of Solingen)
  • 2008 (2008) – Award of the Small States of Herbert Batliner-Europa Institute in Salzburg
  • 2008 (2008) – European Banker of the Year
  • 2009 (2009) – European prize of the service economy
  • 2009 (2009) – European Union Medal in Gold with Star
  • 2009 (2009) – Award of FASEL Foundation
  • * 2009 (2009) – Social Market Economy, MA
  • 2009 (2009) – Honorary Senator of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • 2010 (2010) – Prize of the City of Fulda Winfried
  • 2010 (2010) – Thomas a Kempis honorary stele
  • 2010 (2010) – Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for Services to the Republic of Austria[23]
  • 2010 (2010) – Honorary Doctor of Medicine University of Innsbruck
  • 2010 (2010) – Saarland Order of Merit
  • 2011 (2011) – Honorary Doctor of the Faculty of Law, University of Athens
  • 2011 (2011) – Order of Merit of Baden-Württemberg
  • 2011 (2011) – Hanns Martin Schleyer award
  • 2011 (2011) – Order of Merit of Rhineland-Palatinate
  • 2011 (2011) – European Culture Prize
  • 2012 (2012) – Werner Blindert Prize
  • 2012 (2012) – Sigillum Magnum, University of Bologna.
  • 2012 (2012) – Honorary Doctor of the University of Sheffield
  • 2013 (2013) – Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pronunciations for Juncker". Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  2. ^ McDonald-Gibson, Charlotte (11 July 2013). "Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker calls snap elections amid secret service scandal – risking longest held office for any EU leader". The Independent. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Higgins, Andrew (12 July 2013). "Luxembourg's Prime Minister Resigns". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Luxembourg government resigned on Thursday, brought down by a spying and corruption scandal that shook the tiny country better known for wealthy bankers than political intrigue", Reuters, 11 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  5. ^ Stephanie Bodoni, "Juncker Hands Fate to Luxembourg Ruler as Coalition Fails", Bloomberg, 11 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  6. ^ "EU veteran Juncker wins centre-right backing for top Brussels job". Reuters. 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  7. ^ "Réaction de Jean-Claude Juncker à la réhabilitation par le pape d'un évêque négationniste". Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Premier Juncker: Vum Geheimdéngscht mat Auer ofgelauschtert!". RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg (in Luxembourgish). 19 November 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Neuger, James (11 July 2013). "Secrets and Lies in Luxembourg". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  10. ^ "Juncker tapped by secret service in 2008". Luxemburger Wort. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  11. ^ "Secret recording alleges ties between Grand Duke and British Secret Service". Luxemburger Wort. 30 November 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "Wer bespitzelte Juncker und Henri?". Tageblatt (in German). 30 November 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "Parliament to launch enquiry into secret service activities". Luxemburger Wort. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d "Luxembourg PM Juncker offers government resignation". BBC News. 11 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  15. ^ "SREL director reveals illegal wire tapping". Luxemburger Wort. 13 January 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  16. ^ Robinson, Frances (10 July 2013). "Luxembourg Juncker: Secret Service Wasn't My Top Priority". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  17. ^ "Enquiry commission to debate Juncker's responsibility in secret service scandal". Luxemburger Wort. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "Luxembourg spying scandal breaks Juncker government". Reuters. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  19. ^ "Luxembourg Prime Minister Juncker calls for new elections amid scandal". Deutsche Welle. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Bodoni, Stephanie (11 July 2013). "Juncker Hands Fate to Luxembourg Ruler as Coalition Fails". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  21. ^ "Eurogroup chief: 'I'm for secret, dark debates'", EUobserver, 21 April 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  22. ^ Deutsche Welle, 21 January 2013: New boss for the eurozone
  23. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (PDF) (in German). p. 1978. Retrieved November 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jacques Santer
Minister for Finances
Succeeded by
Luc Frieden
Prime Minister of Luxembourg
Succeeded by
Xavier Bettel
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jean Spautz
Leader of the Christian Social People's Party
Succeeded by
Erna Hennicot-Schoepges
Diplomatic posts
New office President of the Eurogroup
Succeeded by
Jeroen Dijsselbloem
Academic offices
Preceded by
Javier Solana
Speaker at the College of Europe Opening Ceremony
Succeeded by
David Miliband