EU leaders didn’t get far last night in addressing the voter backlash dealt to them in European elections but it seems less likely that Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker will end up with Brussels’ top job, a first indication that things are on the move.
Britain’s David Cameron has been determined to block the arch federalist from becoming European Commission president and, after the strong showing by far-right and far-left parties, others also seem to see the need for a newer broom, possibly even Angela Merkel.
Juncker is a veteran of EU politics and is a consummate deal-maker, and as head of the centre-right EPP group which topped the weekend polls should be the heir presumptive. But he is very much of the old school.
Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi all focused on revving up Europe’s economy last night, but it remains to be seen if they can find common ground on how. The British and Dutch talked again of less Europe where it is not required.
What seems certain is that further integration within the euro zone to underpin the single currency is now a very distant prospect although many economists say it is needed to avoid a repeat of the bloc’s debt crisis. Any treaty change is very unlikely.