The EU leaders under the name of closer EU integration selected Jean-Claude Juncker, as the new President of the European Commission. On the other hand, the main question remains to be answered: Closer EU union for the European people or for the banks and their bosses?
The leaders of Sweden and Germany have offered encouragement to David Cameron after his defeat in a vote on the new European Commission president. Britain forced a vote to block the selection of Jean-Claude Juncker, seen as a backer of closer political union, but EU states voted 26-2 in his favour. Sweden backed Mr Juncker but after the vote PM Fredrik Reinfeldt said he knew closer union was not “for everyone”. Germany’s Angela Merkel said she was “ready to address British concerns”. Labour said the result of Friday’s vote was “humiliating” for the UK Prime Minister, but Mr Cameron said it was not his “last stand”. He said he would not “back down” in his fight to reform the EU and take powers back from Brussels, something he plans to do before holding a referendum on Britain’s EU membership after the next general election. But speaking about the vote, he said: “This is a bad day for Europe. ”It risks undermining the position of national governments, it risks undermining the power of national parliaments and it hands new power to the European Parliament.”
According to the British PM, David Cameron, Jean-Claude Juncker is the “ultimate Brussels insider…” meaning that he is going to forcefully enhance the powers of the Brussels decision-making centres, leaving national EU governments, even more weak than today:
EU leaders on Friday (27 June) nominated Jean-Claude Juncker to be European Commission president, simultaneously doling out a major diplomatic defeat for London and handing a large chunk of power to the European Parliament. “Decision made. The European Council proposes Jean-Claude Juncker as the next President of the European Commission,” EU council president Herman Van Rompuy tweeted during the meeting. The decision was taken by a vote – a first for an EU summit – after British PM David Cameron led a strong campaign against the Luxembourger, opposing both the way the 59-year-old came to be nominated, as well as the man – who he has called the “ultimate Brussels insider” – himself. The nature of Cameron’s pre-summit rhetoric and his refusal to take some kind of trade-off for the UK in return for accepting Juncker saw EU leaders have a show of hands on the issue. Only Hungary’s Viktor Orban joined Cameron in voting no. The decision represents a diplomatic defeat for Cameron – who started the campaign convinced he would win – but also a new shift in the balance of power in the EU capital, to the European Parliament’s gain. Juncker’s appointment came on the back of a novel process pushed through by MEPs in which they insisted the lead candidate of the party winning the May EU vote – in this case Juncker for the centre-right EPP – should be nominated for the commission presidency by EU leaders. Grumbling that MEPs were taking an over-expansive interpretation of the treaty, EU leaders went half-heartedly along with the idea. However, they were soon overtaken by events on the ground as the various Spitzenkandidaten started taking part in TV debates and touring member states as commission candidates. For a while it looked like German chancellor Angela Merkel – not a huge fan of Juncker – would stop the process, but a backlash by domestic press saw her reiterate her support.
On the other hand, David Cameron seems decisive to continue his efforts for promoting extensive reforms inside the EU, despite Junker’s selection:
UK Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that he had no regrets and would “do it all again,” despite being soundly defeated in his bid to prevent Jean Claude Juncker becoming the next President of the European Commission. ”I feel totally comfortable with how I handled this,” he told a news conference following the EU summit on Friday (27 June). ”In a Europe crying out for reform we’ve chosen the ultimate Brussels insider who probably knows every furrow in this building,” he said. Earlier, Cameron warned fellow EU leaders that they would “live to regret” choosing Juncker to lead the EU executive for the next five years. But despite demanding a formal vote, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban was the only leader to join Cameron as the bloc’s 26 other leaders swung behind the Spitzenkandidat of the centre-right EPP political group.Over lunch at Friday’s summit, the UK prime minister had described the move as a “sad moment” for Europe. ”I am disappointed that we have reached this point,” he told fellow leaders, warning them to “think very carefully about what they are setting for the future”. Speaking at a news conference following the summit, Cameron described it as “the wrong principle, the wrong procedure and the wrong person”.
Junker, selected as the new President of the European Commission, yesterday, as Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine signed EU free trade agreement treaties, despite Russia‘s warnings and strong opposition to the deals, in the core of the former Soviet area of Russian geopolitical influence:
Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine have said their signature of EU free trade treaties is a first step to accession. Leaders of the former Soviet republics and the 28 EU countries signed the accords in Brussels on Friday (27 June). The move crowns seven years of technical negotiations and comes despite Russian efforts to disrupt the process with trade bans, gas disputes, and military aggression. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko used the same pen that his predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, was supposed to have used at an EU summit in Vilnius last November before he changed his mind and pro-EU demonstrators swept him from power. Poroshenko told press in Brussels that Lithuanian President Dalia Grybausakite had kept the pen for him. “It [the signature] didn’t happen then, but the pen is the same, demonstrating that historical events are inevitable,” he said. He called the signature “a tribute to those who gave their life … to make this happen”. He said: “By signing the agreement with the European Union, Ukraine, as a European state … is underlining its sovereign choice in favour of future membership”. He added that he expects the EU to give Ukraine a “membership perspective” in “a short time”. Moldovan PM Iurie Leanca said he will file an official EU entry application next year. “Moldova has made a choice and this choice is definitive – European integration”, he noted. Georgia’s Irakli Garibashvili said: “Unofficially, we applied today. Officially, it [Georgia’s application date] depends on the progress that we make in terms of reforms”. The “deep” free trade accords oblige the three states to make far-reaching reforms to comply with EU single market rules.
The European Union signed an historic free-trade pact with Ukraine on Friday and warned it could impose more sanctions on Moscow unless pro-Russian rebels act to wind down the crisis in the east of the country by Monday. Shortly after returning to Kiev from Brussels where he signed the pact, Poroshenko announced on his website that Ukraine had extended a ceasefire by government forces against pro-Russian separatist rebels by 72 hours until 10 p.m. on Monday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko came to Brussels to sign a far-reaching trade and political cooperation agreement with the EU that has been at the heart of months of deadly violence and upheaval in his country, drawing an immediate threat of “grave consequences” from Russia. Georgia and Moldova signed similar deals, holding out the prospect of deep economic integration and unfettered access to the EU’s 500 million citizens, but alarming Moscow, which is concerned about losing influence over former Soviet republics. The week-long ceasefire had been due to expire on Friday. The extension was made, Poroshenko’s website said, in line with a Monday deadline set by EU leaders for the rebels to agree to ceasefire verification arrangements, return border checkpoints to Kiev authorities and free hostages including detained monitors of the OSCE rights and security watchdog. ”We expect progress in the next hours,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “If we don’t see any steps forward on any of the points, then we are also prepared to take drastic measures.”
On the other hand, is it possible to have an ultimate end to violence in Ukraine, right now..?
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the prolongation of truce in the east of Ukraine for 72 hours and called for an ultimate end to violence. The UN Secretary-General hopes that all parties to the conflict in Ukraine will strictly abide by their liabilities and is calling upon all parties concerned to seek an ultimate end to violence through a political process, the UN press-service said in a statement on Friday. Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has extended the regime of non-use of force until 22:00 (19:00 UTC) Monday, June 30. “In case the terms of the non-use of force are violated, Ukraine reserves the right to terminate the regime ahead of schedule in areas where the ceasefire regime is not implemented,” the presidential press service said in a statement Saturday. The statement noted that “building fortifications or structures hindering the peaceful life of Donbass (the way Eastern Ukraine is typically referred to in Ukraine and Russia) residents will be considered violation of the ceasefire regime.”
More importantly, Russia is to receive the two “Mistral” class navy assault ships, despite the EU opposition, against the France’s will to move forward with their construction and official handling to the Russian navy:
The Russian Navy denies one of the two helicopter carriers of the Mistral class, being built for Russian in France, The Sevastopol, will be based in the same-name harbour in Crimea on the Black Sea. Earlier, some mass media said that one of the two amphibious assault ships will enter duty as the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet by 2015. A pier was reportedly being equipped for it. “The Navy’s Command has made no changes to its original plans for the Mistral ships. Infrastructures for them are being built in Vladivostok. No amendments have been made,” the Navy’s spokesman told the media on Friday. According to the official there were certain plans for upgrading the composition of the Black Sea Fleet in the near future. Six submarines of project 636.6 and frigates of project 11356 would join the fleet soon. “Mistral class ships are absent from these plans,” the spokesman said.
Finally, the EU made the choice to move forward with Juncker. On the other hand, the EU directly provokes Russia, by signing free trade agreements with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. The EU..?
(Photo Credit: BBC, Reuters, Itar-Tass, Euro Observer)