MEPs asked to back Juncker

Get a taste of some of the interesting and quirky happenings in Europe from our Europe correspondent, Ann Cahill.

MEPs asked to back Juncker

All European Commissioners have been summoned to Strasbourg tonight to stand shoulder to shoulder with president, Jean Claude Juncker.

The occasion is a rare vote of confidence by MEPs in Juncker — but of course all the commissioners’ jobs are in theory on the line. However, we can also take from it that Juncker, being an old political warhorse, knows he is not going to lose, and being flanked by his lieutenants will look good.

The eurosceptic groups including Ukip, French National Front and Italy’s Five Star had trouble mustering the 76 votes they needed to call a confidence vote over the Luxembourg tax leaks.

Recognising Palestine vote

The European Parliament is to make its own attempt to vote on recognising Palestine following the Irish Seanad and the Swedish parliament votes while British and Spanish politicians are under pressure and the French are planning a vote next month.

While there may be sufficient MEPs willing to support a motion, the negotiations are intense on the wording even though it will have no power other than as pressure.

The EU has begun once again pouring money into humanitarian aid and rebuilding the schools, hospitals, about 100,000 homes, offices, and infrastructure of Gaza destroyed by the latest wave of Israeli bombing.

EU fund

The experts have been working late into the night in the European Commission putting together the promised €300bn investment fund to be unveiled to the European Parliament on Wednesday.

Designed to kickstart the EU economy by helping fund infrastructure and other programmes, all admit that it is just a drop in the ocean given the ban on member states’ spending as they strive to cut budgets and debts.

As Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan readily acknowledged, not a lot is new money, as some of it has already been earmarked for particular projects, but the plan is to use some of it to entice developers and investors to add to it, and share in the benefits.

Poetic changing of the guard

Next Sunday marks a changing of the guard at the European Council when the quietly spoken ex-Belgian prime minister, Herman Van Rompuy, hands over to the ex-Poland PM, Donald Tusk.

Few know if van Rompuy actually knocks tough nuts like Angela Merkel and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy to get them into line? Or did he simply suggest it was time for dinner?

If all hell breaks out at the December EU summit with the prime ministers throwing their toys out of the pram, we will know the poetry-writing Van Rompuy was a tough cookie.

Nationalism vs European dream

Politics is breaking out all over, including among European commissioners who are supposed to set national interests aside and pursue the best for Europe.

German Gunter Oettinger, in charge of the digital economy, waded into the controversy calling France a “deficit recidivist” after Paris failed to embrace Berlin’s passion for austerity.

However, some in Brussels corridors wonder if he was not primed by Mr Juncker’s team ahead of a decision by the Economics Commission to clear, or fine, France for failing to meet challenging budget targets.

The person in the hot seat for this decision will be non other than Pierre Moscovici, pictured above, Economics Commissioner and former finance minister in the French Socialist government.

Dispute on bankers’ bonuses

EU rules on bankers bonuses that limit it to 100% of their salary a year, or 200% with shareholder approval did not find favour with the British government.

They challenged it in the European Court of Justice but a preliminary opinion from the court’s senior legal expert found no fault with the new legislation.

British chancellor, George Osbourne did not seem best pleased with the opinion and announced that he was not going to waste any more of taxpayers’ money continuing with the challenge.

The British state has already spent €685bn bailing out the banks that are managed by well-heeled bankers.

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