Friday, 28 November 2014

Juncker, Confidence votes and Parliamentary battles

The Juncker Commission easily survived this week's motion of censure in the European Parliament, with 461 against, 101 for and 88 abstentions. The motion was brought by a Euroskeptic bloc of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy with support from Front national (a particular point of controversy in the UK where UKIP said that they would not sit with FN in the Parliament but are working with them on this high-profile issue), on the basis that Juncker is unfit to lead the Commission in the light of the damaging Luxleaks scandal.

A majority of the EPP, S&D, ALDE and the Greens rejected the motion (the European Conservatives accounted for most of the abstentions) - the parliamentary majority that backed Juncker and his Commission so recently and after facing down the Council to put him there is unlikely to unseat him so readily. It would also be a very panicked response to ditch Juncker before the competition investigations (and perhaps one of the Parliament's own) is complete.

While the motion was at least in part a cynical ploy by the Euroskeptics - to paraphrase ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt - it was important to have this debate in the European Parliament. No-confidence votes are held in many national parliaments every so often, particularly where there's a scandal affecting the head of the executive, so miffed Europhiles shouldn't take it too personally. After all, just having the debate is a reminder that in the case of the Commission, the Parliament can not only giveth, but also taketh away...

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