UK

EU's Juncker 'Won't Walk On My Knees' To Get British Approval, As French Ex-PM Tells UK To 'Get Out'

06/06/2014 13:16 BST | Updated 06/06/2014 13:59 BST

The man set for the EU's top job has decried the vitriolic campaign against him by the British tabloid press, but said he remains defiant against stiff opposition from David Cameron.

According to the Guardian, Jean-Claude Juncker, who earlier this week insisted he is "more confident than ever" of being president of the European Commission, told the European People's Party (EPP): "I will not be forced to get on my knees before the British."

"What bothers me is the gathering British press campaign. 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."

juncker

European People's Party top candidate for the upcoming European elections ,Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his speech during the German ruling Christian Democratic Union

The Prime Minister and the German chancellor, who have been at loggerheads over the appointment, held talks over the fraught issue on the fringes of the G7 summit to try to find a way forward.

Merkel has publicly backed Juncker to succeed Jose Manuel Barroso but unconfirmed reports earlier this week suggested she had privately raised with French president Francois Hollande the possibility that he might put IMF chief Christine Lagarde's name forward.

The Prime Minister could be forgiven for thinking his power to turn the tide in Brussels was about as effective as King Cnut. His campaign to "re-negotiate" Britain's membership of the European Union has been skewered by ex-French prime minister Michel Rocard in Le Monde, telling the UK to "go before you wreck everything".

"Democracy demands that he [Juncker] become the president of the European commission," Rocard wrote. |But you want to prevent this. A leader picked in these circumstances will be weakened. But this is what you want. Without internal democracy Europe is unworthy, and is in the process of dying.

"And you are sending us back to that Europe, you despise us so much. What right do you have? And beware, this contempt will backfire on you. You will eventually be right.

"Now you pretend to want to exit; the majority of your people are in no doubt about it. But you have a banking interest in remaining to capitalise on the disorder that you have helped to create. So go before you wreck everything.

"There was a time when being British was synonymous with elegance. Let us rebuild Europe. Regain your elegance and you will regain our esteem."

But candidates for the top jobs in the European Union must understand "the need for change" in the 28-nation bloc, Chancellor George Osborne said on Monday. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We've just had European elections where not just in this country but across Europe people said very clearly they weren't happy with the way Europe is working.

"Anyone who wants one of these important jobs in Europe, which affect all of our lives, needs to demonstrate, in my view, that they understand people's anger at what's gone wrong in Europe, understand the need for change in Europe.

"It's for anyone who is aspiring to one of these important jobs in Europe to set out their case. That's the test we are going to apply as a British Government."

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Osborne said that May's European election left no doubt of the "anger" felt by voters across the continent, adding: "We had to listen to that and respond to that. We can't then two weeks later say 'Business as usual, let's forget what the people say, let's elect a new people'.

"Everyone aspiring to this job - or the jobs that are going to be handed out at the top of these European institutions - understands that Britain is seeking change for Europe's sake, not just for Britain's sake, so we create more jobs and prosperity across the continent. There is a stark contrast at the moment between Britain's economic performance and the very weak economic news we receive from too many of our European neighbours. That's not good for us and it's certainly not good for them.

"We've got to have a response across Europe to the election results, to the weak economic performance. We've got to have change in Europe and that is what the Conservative Party is promising and the referendum we offer unlike any other party will be something that people can look at at the general election."

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