U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to continue opposing the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission at a meeting of European Union leaders next week.
Other heads of governments should stick by what they say in private about Juncker and oppose the appointment at the European Council meeting in Belgium, Cameron told the House of Commons in London today to cheers from his Conservative Party lawmakers. He did not give details of who had criticized the former Luxembourg prime minister.
“I don’t mind how many people on the European Council disagree with me, I will fight this to the end,” Cameron said. “What I would say to my colleagues in the European Council, many of whom have expressed interesting views about this person and this principle, is: If you want reform in Europe, you’ve got to stand up for it. If you want change, you’ve got to vote for it.”
The choice of the new commission president should be made, in accordance with EU treaties, by national leaders rather than the European Parliament, Cameron told lawmakers. It’s this principle, rather than Juncker’s personality, which has led to the U.K.’s position, he said.
The process that saw Juncker emerge as the main candidate risks undermining impartiality in areas such as competition and state aid, Cameron will tell other EU leaders, according to a U.K. government official familiar with his plans. Cameron will press for the leaders to decide on names for all the bloc’s top jobs across the political spectrum and with a gender balance, the official said.
‘Take the Time’
“Europe should be willing and prepared to take the time to get this right,” Cameron’s spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, told reporters today, in an indication that the U.K. may seek to prevent EU leaders from making an announcement next week. “The prime minister’s view isn’t that the die is cast.”
The U.K. premier spoke to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi about Juncker this morning, Gray said, describing the conversation as “very constructive.”
Cameron has pledged to reform the EU and put Britain’s membership to a referendum by the end of 2017 if he wins next year’s general election. He sees Juncker, who supports closer European integration, as an obstacle to the needed changes.