'Juncker drinks too much' says FT – but he's still EU favourite
Jean-Claude Juncker still expected to be appointed at next week's summit over Cameron's objections
The Financial Times has found another reason why next week’s EU summit should reject Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission: he drinks too much.
Philip Stephens, associate editor of the FT, writes: “It is a commonplace observation among diplomats that he [Juncker] drinks too much.”
The full weight of the FT now appears to be against the federalist Juncker. Under the headline 'A tawdry deal over jobs will leave Europe the big loser', Stephens argues that Angela Merkel - back from watching her boys start well in the World Cup – is wrong to be pushing for the former Luxembourg premier to be made president at the two-day summit opening in Ypres next Thursday.
The article will doubtless be used by Juncker to say it proves his point about the British press.
"What bothers me is the gathering British press campaign," he said recently. "The tabloid press has occupied my house, photographers are harassing my neighbours, they are asking neighbours about family stories.
"You had better be ready for a lot more dirt."
But the FT can hardly be classed as a paper that digs for dirt. Indeed, being pro-EU, it is a highly respected voice in the corridors of power in Europe and it recently won plaudits from Europhiles for castigating David Cameron over his flawed tactics in pulling Britain’s Conservatives out of the European People’s Party which is championing Juncker.
At a stroke, said the FT, Cameron threw away all his bargaining chips. The EPP is the power broker in the EU and that is why Juncker will be annointed next week unless Merkel performs a massive U-turn. Had the Conservatives remained in the EPP, Cameron would have been in a better position to block his appointment.
Stephens says Merkel has been forced to back Juncker against her instincts in order to keep her coalition partners, the Social Democrats, sweet, not to mention factions within her own Christian Democratic Union party.
"The result is an, albeit still tentative, three-way backroom deal that gives Mr Juncker the commission job, assures the SPD’s Martin Schulz of another term leading the European Parliament and leaves with Ms Merkel the appointment of Germany’s vice-president at the commission. You could call this tawdry; or you could say it reflects the brute reality of German power. Both, it seems to me, are true,” says Stephens.
The Mole wonders whether the gossip that Juncker drinks too much could actually work in his favour. It is exactly what Mrs Nigel Farage said about her beer-swilling husband, Nigel, leader of the Juncker-hating Ukip. Perhaps Juncker and Farage can bury their differences over a pint of warm beer in the Brussels Dog and Partridge after his appointment next week. ·