Jean-Claude Juncker

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Jean-Claude Juncker
Ioannes Claudius Juncker die 7 Martis 2014.jpg
President of the European Commission
Taking office
1 November 2014
Vice President Frans Timmermans (Designate)
Succeeding José Manuel Barroso
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
Minister for Finance
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 Catholic

Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourgish pronunciation: [ʒ̊ɑ̃ːkloːd ˈjʊŋ.kɐ]; born 9 December 1954) is a politician who is President-elect of the European Commission. He was previously the Prime Minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013. He was the longest-serving head of government of any European Union country, and one of the longest-serving democratically elected leaders in the world, by the time he left office.[1] He was also Luxembourg's Minister for Finances from 1989 to 2009 and the first permanent President of the Eurogroup from 2005 to 2013, his tenure encompassing the height of the European financial and sovereign debt crisis.

Juncker was the candidate of the European People's Party (EPP) for the President of the European Commission going into the 2014 European Parliament elections, which saw the EPP win the most seats.[2] On 27 June, the European Council officially nominated Juncker for the position,[3][4] and on 15 July, the European Parliament elected him with a majority of 422 votes from a total of 729 cast.[5] He is scheduled to succeed incumbent Jose Manuel Barroso into office in November.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Juncker was born in Redange, Luxembourg and spent most of his childhood in Belvaux. His father, Joseph, was a steelworker and a member of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions who was conscripted by the Wehrmacht after the German occupation of Luxembourg during World War II. Juncker studied at the Clairefontaine in Belgium before returning to Luxembourg to study his Baccalaureate at the Lycée Michel Rodange. In 1974, he joined the Christian Social People's Party. Juncker went on to study law at the University of Strasbourg, graduating with a Masters in Law in 1979. Although he was subsequently sworn into the Luxembourg Bar Council in 1980, he never practised as a lawyer.

Early political career[edit]

Following Juncker's graduation from the University of Strasbourg, he was appointed as a Parliamentary Secretary. He later won election to the Chamber of Deputies for the first time in 1984 and was immediately appointed to the Cabinet of Prime Minister Jacques Santer as Minister of Labour. This led to a chairmans' 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, after which he was promoted to become Minister for Finance, a post traditionally seen as a rite of passage to the premiership of the country. His eventual promotion to Prime Minister seemed at this time inevitable, with political commentators concluding that Santer was grooming Juncker as his successor. Juncker at this time also accepted the position of Luxembourg's representative on the 188 member board of Governors of the World Bank.

Juncker's second election to Parliament saw him gain prominence within 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 his ministerial role. With Santer ready to be nominated as the next President of the European Commission, it was only six months later that Grand Duke Jean approved the appointment of Juncker as Prime Minister on 20 January 1995, as part of a coalition with the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party. Juncker relinquished his post at the World Bank at this time, but maintained his position as Minister for Finance.

Prime Minister of Luxembourg[edit]

Juncker with the Italian Prime Minister 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. The press dubbed Juncker the "Hero of Dublin" for achieving an unlikely consensus between the two.

1997 brought the rotating Presidency of the European Council to Luxembourg, during which time 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.

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 election, 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]

Juncker with French Prime Minister François Fillon on 29 October 2009

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] After the election, Juncker was succeeded on 4 December 2013 by Xavier Bettel.

President of the Eurogroup[edit]

"Monetary policy is a serious issue. We should discuss this in secret, in the Eurogroup [...]
The same applies to economic and monetary policies in the Union. If we indicate possible
decisions, we are fuelling speculations on the financial markets and we are throwing in misery
mainly the people we are trying to safeguard from this [...] Actions on the financial markets
are taking place in real time. We don't always agree at each and every debate on monetary
policy, but meanwhile markets are reacting. [...] I am for secret, dark debates"
— Juncker, on the constraints to openness from market actors, during the euro-crisis, 20 April 2011.[21]

In 2004, the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers decided to replace the rotating chairmanship with a permanent president. Juncker was appointed as the first permanent president and assumed the chair on 1 January 2005. He was re-appointed for a second term in September 2006.[22] Under the Lisbon Treaty, this system was formalised and Juncker was confirmed for another term.[23] Juncker stepped down on 21 January 2013, when he was succeeded by Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

During his period as "Mr. Euro", the group was instrumental in negotiating and supervising bailout packages for the countries that faced bankruptcy: Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus.[24]

Juncker was also an outspoken proponent of enhanced internal co-operation and increased international representation of the group.[25]

In a debate in 2011, during the height of the eurozone crisis, Juncker responded to a conference-goer's suggestion to increase the openness of the strategy discussions in the eurogroup. He thereby stated he believed the ongoing discussions needed to kept confidential to prevent markets from betting against troubled countries and putting "millions of people at risk", and that he had not been used to such level of secrecy. He further stated that when asked by a journalist to comment on those meetings he had had to lie, making clear it went against his personal moral conviction as a Catholic.[26][27]

President of the European Commission[edit]

Main article: Juncker Commission

For the first time in 2014, the President of the European Commission is being elected under the new provisions established with the Treaty of Lisbon, which had entered into force after the 2009 Elections to the European Parliament, on 1 December 2009:

Article 14(1) The European Parliament shall, jointly with the Council, exercise legislative and budgetary functions. It shall exercise functions of political control and consultation as laid down in the Treaties. It shall elect the President of the Commission.

Article 17(7) Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament and after having held the appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission. This candidate shall be elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members. If he does not obtain the required majority, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall within one month propose a new candidate who shall be elected by the European Parliament following the same procedure.

- Treaty on European Union (as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon)[28]

The European People's Party (EPP) held its Elections Congress ahead of the 2014 European Parliament election in Dublin on 6–7 March. The congress elected Jean-Claude Juncker as the EPP Lead Candidate ("Spitzenkandidat") for President of the European Commission, defeating Michel Barnier, as well as adopted the EPP election Manifesto.[29][30]

All party groups, except the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group (EFD), entered a Lead Candidate each in the election campaign. In the main debate between the candidates, transmitted live throughout Europe on 16 May via the European Broadcasting Union, all candidates agreed that it would be unacceptable if the European Council would propose someone as Commission President who had not publicly campaigned for the position ahead of the election.[31]

In the elections, held 22–25 May, the EPP won a the most parliamentary seats of all parties (221 of 751), but short of a majority in its own right.[32]

On 27 May, the leaders of five of the seven political groups of the parliament issued a statement that Jean-Claude Juncker, being the lead candidate of the party which won a plurality of the seats, should be given the first attempt to form the required majority to be elected Commission President. Only the ECR and EFD disagreed to this process.[33][34]

Later on 27 May, the European Council gave its president, Herman van Rompuy, the mandate to start consultations with the group leaders in the European Parliament to identify the best possible candidate. Having less influence over the appointment than under pre-Lisbon law, the Council instead made use of its right to set the strategic priorities, and included discussions with Parliament leaders and Council members alike for a strategic agenda for the upcoming period in Rompuy's mandate.[35]

During the consultations, Juncker and the EPP agreed to cooperation with the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the second largest group in the new parliament, as well as secured the backing of all but two member state leaders. In turn for the support, the centre-left group and state leaders secured promises of a shift in focus away from austerity towards growth and job creation for the coming period, as well as promises of some of the top jobs.[36][37][38][39]

The European Council officially proposed Juncker to Parliament as candidate for the Presidency on 27 June, together with a strategic agenda setting out policy priorities for the upcoming Commission mandate period.[40]

For the first time the nomination was not by consensus, but the European Council voted 26-2 to propose Juncker for the position. Voting against were British PM David Cameron (Conservative Party / ECR) and Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán (Fidesz / EPP), both of whom had frequently opposed Juncker during the election process. Prior to the vote, various media had reported the heads of government of Sweden, Netherlands and Germany were also having similar concerns regarding either the candidate himself, or the way the nomination process was conducted.[41][42] This was however never confirmed by the politicians in question.

Once Juncker had been nominated by the Council he started visiting all of the political groups of the European Parliament in order to explain his visions as well as gain their support in order to get elected as Commission President. The purpose was also to show that he had understood some criticism levelled by Eurosceptics in Brussels. This was demonstrated when the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg told the ECR lawmakers that "[d]espite what you may read in the British press, I do not want a United States of Europe," as well as "I do not believe that Europe can be constructed against the nation state."[43]

On 15 July, Juncker presented his political programme to the European Parliament in plenary. Following a debate, the MEPs elected Juncker to the position of Commission President with 422 votes in favour, well over the 376 required, and 250 votes against.[44]

Awards and decorations[edit]

National honours[edit]

Academic and other distinctions[edit]

  • 1998 – Honorary Doctor of Miami University
  • 1998 – "Vision for Europe Award" from the Edmond Israel Foundation[46]
  • 1998 – "Médaille d'or de la Fondation Jean-Monnet" (Gold Medal for Services to Europe)
  • 1999 – European Crafts Prize 1999 of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • 2000 – Insignia de l'Artisanat en Or (Gold Badge), of the Luxembourg Chamber of Crafts
  • 2001 – Honorary Doctor of the University of Münster
  • 2002 – Cicero-Speakers Prize
  • 2002 – Prize of the European Federation of Taxpayers
  • 2003 – Honorary Doctor of the University of Bucharest
  • 2003 – Honorary Freedom of the City of Trier
  • 2003 – Heinrich Braun Award
  • 2003 – Quadriga Prize in the European Year of German Society Workshop
  • 2004 – Honorary Doctor of the Democritus University of Thrace
  • 2004 – Honorary Citizen and Freeman of the City of Orestiada; with unveiling a street named after the Prime Minister Juncker
  • 2005 – Walter Hallstein Prize
  • 2005 – Europeans of the Year
  • 2005 – Elsie Kuhn Leitz Prize from the "Association of Franco-German Companies"
  • 2006 – Européen de l'Année 2005 (European of the Year 2005) from the French Press (Trombinoscope)
  • 2006 – International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen
  • 2006 – European Prize for Political Culture of the Hans Ringier Foundation
  • 2007 – Foreign Associate Member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, Institut de France in lieu of the late Léopold Sédar Senghor
  • 2007 – Patron of the not-for-profit Animal Protection Association "EV Newfoundlanders"
  • 2007 – St. Liborius Medal for Unity and Peace of the Archdiocese of Paderborn
  • 2007 – Coudenhove-Kalergi Medal of the European Union Munster
  • 2007 – Peace Prize of the European Foundation for Ecology and Democracy
  • 2007 – Honorary Doctor of Robert Schuman University of Strasbourg
  • 2007 – Honorary Member of the Grand Ducal Institute of Luxembourg, Department of Moral and Political Sciences
  • 2008 – Amilcar Cabral Medal, First Class of the Republic of Cape Verde
  • 2008 – German Citizenship Prize
  • 2008 – Franz Josef Strauss Prize
  • 2008 – Honorary Doctor of Pittsburgh University
  • 2008 – State Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • 2008 – Sharpest Blade Prize (City of Solingen)
  • 2008 – Small State Award of the Herbert Batliner-Europa Institute in Salzburg
  • 2008 – European Banker of the Year
  • 2009 – European Prize for Service Economies
  • 2009 – European Union Gold Medal (with Star)
  • 2009 – FASEL Foundation Award
  • * 2009 – Social Market Economy, MA
  • 2009 – Honorary Senator of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • 2010 – Winfried Freedom of the City of Fulda
  • 2010 – Thomas a Kempis honorary stele
  • 2010 – Honorary Doctor of Medicine University of Innsbruck
  • 2010 – Saarland Medal of Merit
  • 2011 – Medal of Merit of Baden-Württemberg
  • 2011 – Medal of Merit of Rhineland-Palatinate
  • 2011 – Honorary Doctor of the Faculty of Law, University of Athens
  • 2011 – Hanns Martin Schleyer Award
  • 2011 – European Culture Prize
  • 2012 – Werner Blindert Prize
  • 2012 – Sigillum Magnum, University of Bologna
  • 2012 – Honorary Doctor of the University of Sheffield.
  • 2013 – Honorary Doctor of the University of Porto.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ "Results of the 2014 European elections". European Parliament. 28 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "EU backs Juncker to head Commission". BBC. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "EU leaders give thumbs up to Juncker, Britain isolated". EurActiv. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  5. ^ European Commission (15 July 2014), A new start for Europe: My agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change, Press release, retrieved 15 July 2014 
  6. ^ MEPs elect Jean-Claude Juncker to head EU Commission, BBC News, 15 July 2014, retrieved 15 July 2014 
  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. ^ "Juncker re-elected Eurogroup president, voicing optimism over economic growth". People's Daily. 9 September 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  23. ^ "Luxembourg leader set to extend euro zone reign". EUobserver. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  24. ^ "Who is Jean-Claude Juncker?". EUobserver. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  25. ^ "Juncker wants more eurozone activism". EUobserver. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  26. ^ "Economic policy of the eurozone needs to be decided in "dark, secret rooms"". EUobserverTV. 21 April 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  27. ^ "Eurogroup chief: 'I'm for secret, dark debates'". EUobserver. 21 April 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  28. ^ Consolidated Treaties. European Union. March 2010. ISBN 978-92-824-2577-0. 
  29. ^ "EPP Elections Congress Dublin: highlights of final day". EPP. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  30. ^ "Jean-Claude Juncker elected as EPP candidate for President of the European Commission". EPP. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  31. ^ "Eurovision debate". European Parliament. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  32. ^ "Results of the 2014 European elections". European Parliament. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  33. ^ "Juncker given first shot at EU commission job". EUobserver. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  34. ^ "Conference of Presidents statement on Commission President election". European Parliament. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  35. ^ "Remarks by President Herman Van Rompuy following the informal dinner of Heads of State or Government". European Council. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  36. ^ "Loosen EU budget rules in return for support, Socialists tell Juncker". EUobserver. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  37. ^ "Italian PM seeks austerity relief in return for Juncker backing". The Guardian. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  38. ^ "Centre-right to strike deal with centre-left on Juncker, Schulz". EUobserver. 23 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  39. ^ "Socialist leaders back Juncker, want other top jobs". EurActiv. 23 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  40. ^ "Strategic agenda for the Union in times of change". European Council. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  41. ^ "Merkel meets Juncker opponents in Sweden mini-summit". DW. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  42. ^ "he battle for the European Commission - Has Merkel lost her touch?". Economist. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  43. ^
  44. ^ "Parliament elects Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission President". European Parliament. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  45. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (PDF) (in German). p. 1978. Retrieved November 2012. 
  46. ^ "ECB: The European project and the challenges of the future". 11 November 1999. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jacques Santer
Minister for Finance
Succeeded by
Luc Frieden
Prime Minister of Luxembourg
Succeeded by
Xavier Bettel
Preceded by
Martine Reicherts
Luxembourgish European Commissioner

Preceded by
José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jean Spautz
Leader of the Christian Social People's Party
Succeeded by
Erna Hennicot-Schoepges
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Office Created
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