According to the parliament’s press office, 422 MEPs voted in favour of Jean-Claude Juncker, 250 against, 47 abstained, and 10 votes were spoiled in the secret ballot, held Tuesday in Strasbourg.
In a speech--which was delivered in English, French and German--outlining his programme prior to the vote, Juncker called for the “reindustrialisation of Europe”. This would be aided by a €300 billion infrastructure and job creation package to be funded by the current EU budget, European Investment Bank and the private sector.
Several MEPs were critical of Juncker’s nomination, including well known politicians from Britain and France. Nigel Farage of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy grouping said in a press statement issued after the vote that: “Nobody in the UK knew that the elections had anything to do with a nominee for the commission presidency. And now we are all asked to vote, but there is only one candidate. It’s like in the old Soviet times.”
“Patriots in France reject the legitimacy of the European Commission,” stated Marine Le Pen of the Front National, which is not part of a political alliance in the parliament. “We will fight your federalist utopia and your obsession with killing the nation state”.
Juncker joking retorted later that the parliament held a secret ballot so the British public would not discover Farage had actually voted for him, and the Luxembourger thanked Le Pen for voting against him, as he did not want the support of anyone who stood for “exclusion and rejection”.
Last month the European Council of heads of state and government voted 26 to 2 to endorse Juncker, who was prime minister of Luxembourg from 1995 until last December.
The council--which will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss the election of its new chair and the new EU foreign policy chief--must now give its final confirmation to his appointment.
The new commission is scheduled to start a five year term on November 1.