Juncker speaks of ambition to 'reindustrialise' Europe

Wednesday 16 July 2014 10.48
Jean-Claude Juncker acknowledged many Europeans had lost confidence in the EU
Jean-Claude Juncker acknowledged many Europeans had lost confidence in the EU

Jean-Claude Juncker won broad endorsement from the European Parliament today to become president of the European Commission after setting out a "grand coalition" investment programme to help revive Europe's economy.
              
Upon his appointment, Mr Juncker spoke with passion and fire of his ambition to "reindustrialise" Europe and put the European Union's 25 million unemployed, many of them young, back into work.
              
He promised a €300 billion public-private investment programme over the next three years, combining existing and perhaps augmented resources from the EU budget and the European Investment Bank with private sector funds, to build energy, transport and broadband networks and industry clusters.
              
"We need a reindustrialisation of Europe," the 59-year-old former Luxembourg prime minister said. 

Mr Juncker also acknowledged many Europeans had lost confidence in the EU and said only economic results and full employment, not endless debate over EU institutions, would restore their trust.

In a speech delivered in French, German and English, Juncker sought to reassure Germany and other north European fiscal hawks that the 28-nation bloc's strict rules on budget deficits and debt reduction would be maintained.

However, his emphasis on public investment, reaffirmation of a target of raising industry to 20% of EU economic output from 19.1% in 2013, coupled with his call for a minimum wage in each EU country, were designed to reach out to the left.

He has said he would work towards the introduction of a minimum social wage in each member state of the European Union.

Addressing the European Parliament before a vote on his appointment, Mr Juncker said: "All countries in the European Union, we set in place a minimum social wage, a minimum income, a guaranteed minimum income."

He has previously said he favours each EU country setting a minimum wage as a proportion of its own median income, which varies widely between Luxembourg at the top and Romania and Bulgaria at the bottom.

Mr Juncker also vowed to protect public services in Europe from what he called "the whims of the age" - an apparent reference to privatisation and restrictions on state aid.