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© Wolf G Kroner 2018 EU Commission President Jean-Claude JunckerU.S. – EU Relations:
Europe’s Dignity against Monkey Business

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tells unpleasant truths during his visit to Bavaria

June 2018. „I think it is rather monkey business  1)   that we are dictated from elsewhere what we have to do in Europe” commented Jean-Claude Junker the U.S. Administration’s punitive tariffs against its closest allies during his visit in the Bavarian Landtag, the Federal State’s parliament at München (DE), June 14. What appears as usual disagreement over privileges, contract terms, or the amount of compensation in a manageable policy sector, i.e. trade, is rapidly turning into a larger issue of making sure that “Europe’s dignity of its own is to be accepted,” underlined Mr. Juncker. He also provided the audience a flavour of what that means recounting his encounter with Donald Trump in his role as President of the United States during the recent G7 summit at La Malbaie in Québec (CA). “Trump told me last week: Jean-Claude – you are a brutal killer. It is the first time Luxemburg has become such a danger to the United States.” Mr. Juncker said that it might be taken as one of typical Trumpian compliments, but he himself was not convinced. In a condescending manner Mr. Trump treated the President of the European Commission as a politician from Luxembourg the way he treated Prime Minister Duško Marković standing in his way at the Brussels NATO Summit 2017. In his telling remark Mr. Trump disregarded Mr. Junckers role as G7 Member  2)  and indirectly belittled the EU as bunch of irrelevant countries populated by leaders who put their own country “first” in the Union.

Divide and Conquer?
While politicians currently hope to turn growing uneasiness among citizens about migration policy  3) into party votes they are gambling with the very framework that ensures that local concerns such as regulating the influx of migrants can be solved. Regional or national politicians from Germany are not an exception in Europe, in fact they are a perfect target for those who pursue bilateral deals, because their bargaining power is weak, if dealing with united coalitions.

© Wolf G Kroner 2018 Welcome by the Bavarian Parliament to JC JunckerWarm Welcome to Commissioner Juncker. Barbara Stamm, President of Bavaria's Landtag (Middle) with Ministers

Mr. Juncker is rallying support of regional policymakers for the EU’s retaliatory measures against the collision course of the current American government and during his visit to Bavaria which is one of the economic strongest regions in Germany, he urged the gathered parliamentarians to join defending European values and the acquis communautaire: “I am not thinking in a logic of war, not at all … This is an independent continent, and therefore we have to stand up ourselves that it is heard – also internationally.” Mr. Juncker’s call was received by the Members of the Bavarian Parliament with a large applause across party lines. Earlier Barbara Stamm, President of the Landtag recalled the population’s overwhelming support of the EU – some 75 percent in Germany, and pointed needs of regional policymakers: “We want more Europe as a whole, because the issues are better solved supranationally”. One of the issues for European Regions is creating, upgrading, or maintaining employment. Policymakers in Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Flanders have been supporting the EU’s free trade policies in particular with regard to Japan or Kanada. Jean-Claude Juncker announced that he will sign the free trade agreement between the EU with Japan which during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s meeting with Chancellor Angel Merkel had been significantly moved forward at Hannover during cebit 2017. Then, the Commissioner also referred to CETA: “This treaty is nowhere near implemented,” he said, “but since then trade between the EU and Canada increased by 24 percent. Every billion Euros we export immediately translates into 14,000 additional jobs!”

© Wolf G Kroner 2018 - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo AbeJapan and the EU are going to sign the free trade agreement in July 2018. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (here at CeBit 2017) preparing to close ranks with the European Union defying "America First and Only"


European Industries Have to Show its Colours
Mr. Juncker’s remarks were not only addressed to the general public, but also to those European businesses who have been sweet-talking U.S. President Trump`s longstanding threats about disregarding agreements or hitting out at close allies, while these businesses have been lobbying for policymakers in Europe to adopt a laissez-faire attitude. This is about to change, at least for big players of the electronics, automotive or aerospace industries who are beginning to cautiously distance themselves from U.S. policies. Some of them like Siemens, BMW or Airbus are headquartered in Bavaria and a backbone to the State’s economy. First adverse effects of U.S. government measures are already felt in Europe’s industries with the unilateral repeal of sanctions against Iran. Punitive tariffs against Canada, Mexico or China are also felt in the EU or in Japan. And escalation looms large, if the EU curtails the business of US internet companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, or Apple and actively nurtures competitors.

So, it was not haphazard Jean-Claude Juncker exhorted to stop talking down the importance of the European© Wolf G Kroner 2018 - EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Union for the United States economy. Negative outfall is first felt on the local and regional levels, and the United States or American businesses in Europe might be more adversely affected than vice versa. “42 percent of direct investments in the U.S., are from Europe.” Mr. Juncker said. “There are more jobs created by European companies in the U.S. than by American companies in the EU, namely 6.9 million jobs against 4.7 million. With regard to trade issues there is no obvious or comprehensible reason why we should not negotiate with the Americans on equal terms.”

Wolf G Kroner

 

 

References

1) In his address to the German audience Mr. Juncker talked in German, except when he quoted Donald Trump. In commenting accusations that the EU abuses trade agreements with the United States. Mr. Juncker evaluated it saying: “Ich glaub' das ist eher Mist...»

2) Jean-Claude Juncker was Prime Minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013 and assumed office of the President of the EU Commission November 1, 2014. As Prime Minister of Luxembourg he would not have had an official role at the G7 summit. The EU is a member of the G7 and represented by European Commission and the European Council represented by their Presidents, currently Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk.

3) For a factual background and non-partisan policy recommendations see:
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD (2017): International Migration Outlook. 41st Edition. Paris, June 29.

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