European Commission president designate, Jean-Claude Juncker has put down a marker for British demands that the City of London would be protected from EU rules.
He refused to say that he would resist British attempts to exempt the City from financial regulation and allow trade deals for financial services including Chinese offshore activities.
Mr Juncker was being questioned by former economics professor and British Green MEP, Molly Scott-Cato, at a hearing hosted by the Green Party in the European Parliament.
The former Luxembourg prime minister said that he would have to take into account British issues as the EU has to take into account particular problems that may arise in countries.
However, if Britain wanted to repatriate certain competences, they would have to negotiate, but he said he had no idea of what they had in mind and he did not have a list of requests from Britain.
“We have to make sure that the four basic freedoms of the Treaty will not be harmed in any common procedure to be agreed with Britain or others,” he said, adding that the Dutch parliament had a list of 53 issues they wanted dealt with in a different way.
But his red lines were clear and they were that the EU Treaty and the four basic freedoms would not be harmed in any way.
Sinn Féin MEPs, who are members of the European Left party, said that they and the group would not be voting for Mr Juncker.
“He did not inspire us with much hope of any change,” said Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan.
West MEP Luke Flanagan asked about Ireland getting back the money it put into the banks, and accused Fine Gael MEPs and Mr Juncker of being elected on the basis of lies about retroactive recapitalisation.
The EPP, the largest group in the Parliament, said they were fully behind him.
Their group head, Manfred Weber, said that they were happy with his reform agenda shaped around competitiveness, growth, new jobs, and a stable fiscal policy based on solid finances.
The Parliament will vote on Mr Juncker’s appointment next Tuesday.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved