Jean-Claude Juncker wants to "reindustrialise" Europe as new Commission boss

 
Nassos Stylianou
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The European Parliament confirms Juncker's appointment (Source: Getty)

No surprise here, but Brussels veteran Jean-Claude Juncker, the man who became David Cameron's public enemy number one last month, has officially been elected president of the European Commission.

Former Luxembourg Prime Minister Juncker received 442 votes in favour and 250 against in today's secret ballot among MEPs, which rubber stamped his election to the EU's top jobs. This was well over the 376 votes that he needed to head the bloc's executive arm for the next five years. There were 47 abstentions.

In a speech to mark his appointment, Juncker said that he wanted the Commission to be "a political body" and not just the European civil service. He also called for "a reindustrialisation of Europe", promising a £238bn public-private investment programme to construct energy, transport and broadband networks and industry clusters.

Juncker was the candidate for the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which came out on top in May's parliamentary election. Only the UK and Hungary voted against his appointment in a meeting between the EU28 heads of state in June.

Cameron voiced his strong opposition to Juncker in the lead up to his appointment, calling him the "ultimate Brussels insider" and warning that the EU could "live to regret" its choice in a last-ditch impassioned plea urging leaders to reconsider their selection.

The British PM's hostility to the 59-year-old EU veteran originates from Juncker's reputation as an arch federalist and a strong advocate for further EU integration, at odds with the Conservative party's bid to claw back powers from Brussels.

Since then however, Cameron has taken a more conciliatory stance, saying he could do business with Juncker and did not intend to personalise his appointment.

Juncker, who oversaw the financial bailouts for Greece, Portugal and other struggling EU countries as head of the Eurozone finance ministers during the peak of the euro crisis, takes over from Jose Manuel Barroso, who spent ten years at the helm of the Commission.

Juncker will preside over a new 28-member Commission team, which will consists of one commissioner from each member state, that will be appointed over the next few months. A new foreign policy chief and president of the European Council, to replace Lady Catherine Ashton and Herman Van Rompuy respectively, will also be chosen.

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