POLITICS

David Cameron Fails To Stop Jean-Claude Juncker Getting Top EU Job

27/06/2014 15:49 BST | Updated 27/06/2014 15:59 BST
ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE - In this April 5, 2014 file picture German chancellor Angela Merkel, and then top candidate of the European People's Party for the European Elections, Jean-Claude Juncker, wave to participants at the convention of Merkel's Christian Democratic Party in Berlin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered a clear endorsement of Luxembourg's former premier Jean-Claude Juncker as the next European Commission leader after drawing criticism for appearing cool on her fellow conservative. Merkel said Friday May 30, 2014 she is holding talks "in the spirit that Jean-Claude Juncker should become European Commission president." (AP Photo/dpa, Daniel Naupold,File)

David Cameron has failed in his attempt to block the nomination of arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker as the next president of the European Commission, as he was outvoted by fellow EU leaders at a Brussels summit.

The vote came after the prime minister made a last-ditch bid to persuade the leaders of the other 27 member states to think again, warning them that they would "live to regret" the way in which the former Luxembourg PM has secured the EU's top job.

Juncker's nomination - which must be confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament - was announced by European Council president Herman van Rompuy in a message on his official Twitter feed.

"Decision made. The European Council proposes Jean-Claude Juncker as the next President of the European Commission," wrote van Rompuy.

Juncker's nomination was approved by a margin of 26-2, with only Cameron and Hungarian PM Viktor Orban opposed, said British officials.

The vote represented a departure from the decades-old tradition that Commission presidents are chosen by consensus of national heads of government.

The PM insisted on a vote being taken and formally minuted, in order to force fellow leaders to put their cards on the table and have their support for the controversial Luxembourger recorded.

In an address to his continental counterparts moments before the vote, Cameron warned that the installation of the long-time Brussels insider at the head of the Commission - which has powers to initiate legislation affecting all EU states and police the single market - would be "a sad moment for Europe".

He warned it would have an impact on the debate in Britain over the UK's future in Europe, leaving no doubt he believes it will make voters more likely to opt to quit the EU in the referendum he intends to call in 2017.

Cameron has argued over recent weeks that Juncker is "the wrong person" to lead the Commission, and told the 27 other leaders he was "disappointed" they had reached the point where he was set to take up the post without securing the unanimous support of all EU states.

Backing the candidate put forward by the largest political grouping in the European Parliament risked setting a precedent under which the EU's top job could in future be in the hands of MEPs making backroom deals, rather than democratically-elected national leaders, he warned.

As he awaited the vote after making his plea, Cameron sent a message on Twitter: "I've told EU leaders they could live to regret the new process for choosing the Commission President. I'll always stand up for UK interests."