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Juncker’s Confidential Letter to Europe’s Leaders

A Globalist Exclusive: What the Juncker Commission needs from EU leaders for its mission to succeed.

Credit: Marc Bruxelle - Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Ask not what the EU can do for you. Ask rather why you cannot do it at the national level.
  • The EU needs to accept only members equipped to work free of corruption, with freedom of expression and rule of law.
  • The Juncker Commission may be short of a few hundred billion euros, but it is not short of advice.
  • It is the national leaders of Europe that can make Europe work. No one else can.

EU experts employed in think tanks and on newspapers are in seventh heaven as they pour out memos and suggestions to Jean-Claude Juncker and his 27 Commissioners on the eve of their taking office on November 1, 2014.

It can now be revealed that Mr. Juncker himself has written a confidential letter to the 28 heads of government in the EU. The Globalist has been sent a copy. Here is the text:

Lieber Angela, mon cher François, caro Matteo, dear Dave:

I am writing to you on as I take up office. De Gaulle once appealed over the heads of politicians and said “Français, Françaises, aidez-moi!”.

I am no de Gaulle and I want to work with you — and through you. Coming from Luxembourg, the tiniest of European nation states, I don’t need to be told that Europe must be built by, with and from its nations and never seek to replace them.

The new Commission wants to add value so that the EU and its member nations enjoy a win-win synthesis — in place of the scratchy irritations in which many national leaders see Europe as subtracting, not adding value.

Many who work full-time for the Commission or the European Parliament give the impression that everything in the EU would be rosy if its nations could fade away into the dustbin of history. Both are wrong.

Only in unity will the EU find hope

I want to see the end of my five-year term with the nations of Europe feeling happier, healthier and more hopeful about their future than the rather sour pessimism about decline that infects our continent at the moment.

But, like de Gaulle, I need your help. Here is what I hope you can do:

Make clear that there will be no more EU enlargement on my watch. Sorry Serbia, Kosovo, Moldova, Ukraine. But after the problems of recent enlargements, we need to accept that we can consider only new member states that are fully equipped to work free of corruption, with rule of law, freedom of expression (and a very long spoon when it comes to supping with Mr. Putin).

I hope that after the elections in Ukraine, Mr. Putin can make clear he will not destabilize eastern Ukraine any more. In exchange, we can relax sanctions.

Please campaign for the new Euroatlantic trade deal, TTIP. I know open trade frightens some. Twenty years into NAFTA, there are still only a few trucks that trade freely across the U.S.-Mexico border. The EU allows its traders to drive their lorries from Galway to Galicia, from the Arctic Circle to the Aegean Sea.

This is a huge accomplishment — a success we should build on. We should defend the free movement of goods, capital, services — and yes, Dave, people. Don’t forget there are two million plus Brits taking advantage of freedom of movement to live and work in the EU.

A strong EU requires sacrifice

Next, progress on energy. In 1950, most of Europe’s energy came from coal. Back then, far-sighted leaders gave up national sovereign control over coal. They chose to transfer power to the first-ever European economic community and an independent high authority, the forerunner of the Commission. Purists felt letting go of national control was a risk too far.

But it worked. So help me shape a genuine EEU – a European Energy Union – in place of 28 patchwork quilts that all too often see the lights go out.

We can green our energy, but can do so without penalizing industry. My Europe will be one where things are made — not simply consumed.

I speak as a Luxembourger, where we have been able to develop a comparative advantage in banking. It’s no bad thing that innovative banking and financial services are within the EU — and not re-located to Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Dubai and Singapore.

I want the City in London to be as strong for Europe as Wall Street is for the U.S. market economy. We have to avoid the mistakes that led to 2007/08. And when a CEO earns 100 or 200 times what his employees earn, then something is morally and ethically wrong. But a Europe of strong banking and finance is a priority.

Can we create genuine capital union so that start-ups have access to capital and money flows where it can create wealth and a new generation of profitable businesses?

Let’s see if we can make digital Europe with common rules a reality. By 2019, I want all of Europe on Wifi and deep into digital media.

Ministers must focus on the people they work for

In Luxembourg, I had a cabinet of seven, the same size as the Swiss federal cabinet — and that was big enough for me. But at the EU level, there are 28 Commissioners — and none of you was willing not to nominate someone. Good.

There are some terrific experienced ex-prime ministers and senior ministers. I have asked them to work in seven clusters as a team — rather than creating single baronies, as was the inefficient past practice. It’s up to them to make it work, but please nudge them to work as a team.

I am on the centre-right and my number two, Frans Timmermans, is on the center-left. He has to sign off on every proposal. Coming as he does from the pragmatic can-do Dutch, I don’t think he will be wanting to add to your regulatory burdens.

I want you to make decisions for your people. Ask not what the EU can do for you. Ask rather why you cannot do it at the national level. Less Europe, more individual citizens, more individual businesses, more individual responsibility.

I regret the budget mess-up that has happened recently. But if we get a Europe of reform and growth, this will be seen in perspective. I finish, dear friends, as I began. The European Commission and I are only as good as you want us to be. It is the national leaders of Europe that can make Europe work. No one else can.

Sincerely,

Jean-Claude Juncker

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About Denis MacShane

Denis MacShane is a Contributing Editor at The Globalist. He was the UK's Minister for Europe from 2002 to 2005 — and is the author of “Brexit No Exit: Why Britain Won’t Leave Europe.” [London]. Follow him @DenisMacShane

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