Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

EU Chief Executive Jean-Claude Juncker: 5 Things to Know

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

EU Chief Executive Jean-Claude Juncker: 5 Things to Know

Article excerpt

The European Commission has a new president after Jean-Claude Juncker won 422 votes out of 729 secret ballots cast in the European Parliament. Mr. Juncker, a veteran of European politics, was the lead candidate of the center-right European People's Party, and now, as president, he takes on the most powerful role in the European Union. The Commission represents the 28-member states and proposes legislation, applies EU law, and evaluates progress of EU proposals.

Trained as a lawyer, the well-known political figure has a reputation as a suave diplomatic interlocutor who can conduct a conversation in multiple languages (he tweets in many as well). He's been the subject of intense EU politicking in recent months. But he also has a quirky side, with much being made of his often eyebrowing- raising sense of humor.

Here are five things to know about the man who will lead the executive branch of the EU for the next five years.

1. British Prime Minister David Cameron went to the mat to oppose his candidacy.

Juncker's appointment was strongly opposed by Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron with Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban joining Cameron to vote against Juncker in June. As the Monitor reported, Cameron's opposition stemmed from arguments about individual states power in Brussels.

"It's the wrong person," Cameron said in Brussels, insisting that he was standing on principle. "Jean-Claude Juncker has been at the heart of the project to increase the power of Brussels and reduce the power of nation states for his entire working life. He's not the right person to take this organization forward." Juncker has been called a "federalist," a characterization he denies. He said he wants Britain to have a "fair deal" concerning its EU membership.

2. He's a - very - experienced politician.

Prior to his new role, Juncker was the longest-serving leader of any European Union country. He began his career at age 28 when he was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Labor. Within two years he became the Minister of Labor and quickly navigated the political system, becoming prime minister in 1995. He served in that position until 2013. …

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