Jean-Claude Juncker (born December 9, 1954 in Redingen , Luxembourg ) is a Luxembourg politician of the Christian Social People's Party (CSV / PCS). He was President of the European Commission from November 1, 2014 to November 30, 2019 . He was Finance Minister from 1989 to July 2009 and Prime Minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to December 2013 and Chairman of the Eurogroup from 2005 to 2013 .
Jean-Claude Juncker grew up as the son of steel worker Joseph Juncker and his wife Marguerite Juncker in the south of Luxembourg. It was very much shaped by this industrialized area, in which many workers and immigrants (at that time mainly Italians) lived. At that time, his family was already politically part of the Christian Social People's Party (CSV), and his uncle Ed Juncker was the mayor of Ettelbruck . His father was active as a trade unionist in the Luxembourg Christian Trade Union Confederation (LCGB).
He completed middle school in the boarding school of the Belgian Clairefontaine monastery in Arlon , which was run by priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Luxembourg . In 1974 Jean-Claude Juncker obtained the Diplôme de fin d'études secondaires (Abitur, Matura) at the Lycée Michel-Rodange in Luxembourg . In the same year he joined the CSV. He began studying law in 1975 at the University of Strasbourg , which he graduated in 1979. In February 1980 he was sworn in by the Bar Association and admitted to the bar. However, he never practiced this profession, but saw himself as a professional politician from the start.
Juncker has been married since 1979.
After a car accident in September 1989 he was in a coma for two weeks , then had to learn to walk again and, according to his own account, has since suffered from a damaged sciatic nerve and walking problems.
From May 2006 until the paper was discontinued at the end of 2010, Juncker was co-editor of the weekly newspaper Rheinischer Merkur .
State Secretary and Minister
In 1982 Juncker was appointed State Secretary for Labor and Social Security. In 1984, Jean-Claude Juncker won his first mandate in the elections to the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies ( Chambre des députés ). He never ran for any length of time, neither this nor the elections won in the following elections, as he was also a member of the government in the subsequent legislative periods.
When the government was formed after the parliamentary elections in 1989 , he became Minister for Labor and Finance and Governor of Luxembourg at the World Bank . Juncker held the office until 1995, during which time he played a key role in shaping the Maastricht Treaty .
Prime Minister of Luxembourg
On January 20, 1995, he became Luxembourg Prime Minister to succeed Jacques Santer after he had taken over the office of President of the European Commission and left the government . At the same time, Juncker took over the Luxembourg Ministry of Finance and represented Luxembourg as governor at the International Monetary Fund . Right from the start, his work was closely related to international politics, where he benefited from his multilingualism. Among other things, he distinguished himself several times as a mediator within the EU . In 1996 he played a major role in the “Dublin Compromise”, which enabled Germany and France to reach an agreement on the Stability and Growth Pact . In the second half of 1997 and in the first half of 2005, Luxembourg held the EU Council Presidency under Juncker .
Juncker is considered popular with the Luxembourg population and uses his popularity again and again politically: For example, before the Luxembourg elections in 2004, he promised to remain Prime Minister of Luxembourg in the event of re-election and not to accept any European office; his party then won a clear victory. In 2005 Juncker threatened to resign if the referendum in Luxembourg on the new EU constitution was negative . In the following vote, the Luxembourgers adopted the constitution with 57 percent of the votes cast.
Secret service affair and resignation as prime minister
In the first half of 2013, a committee of inquiry of the Luxembourg parliament dealt with dubious practices of the Luxembourg secret service SREL , which had persisted for years . It was triggered by findings in the context of the legal processing of a series of unsolved bombings in the mid-1980s, usually referred to as the bombing affair . In its final report at the beginning of July, the majority of the committee found that Juncker was politically responsible for the uncontrolled activities of the SREL. As it turned out, Juncker himself had been a victim of these practices in 2007, as the then intelligence chief Marco Mille had secretly recorded a conversation between him and Juncker. On July 10, 2013, Juncker announced new elections in the course of the affair (see Chamber election 2013 ). In this election, Junckers CSV was again the strongest party with him as the top candidate, but his previous coalition partner, the Social Democrats, agreed with the Liberals and the Greens on a new coalition government. Juncker, who was most recently the longest-serving head of government in the European Union , resigned from his government office on December 4, 2013, when Xavier Bettel was sworn in as Prime Minister. He then took over the chairmanship of the CSV parliamentary group in the Chamber of Deputies and thus became leader of the opposition.
Presidency of the Eurozone
On September 10, 2004, Juncker was appointed the first permanent chairman of the Eurogroup , an informal body of finance ministers in the euro area, for a period of two years . His mandate began on January 1, 2005, and was extended on September 6, 2006 to December 31, 2008. According to the statutes of the Eurogroup at that time, Juncker's term of office ended with the fact that the same person may not hold the office of chairman for more than two terms of office. On September 12, 2008, however, his term of office was unanimously extended for a further two years at a Eurogroup meeting chaired by the French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde . After the Luxembourg parliamentary elections in 2009, Juncker resigned his position as Luxembourg finance minister but declared his interest in remaining chairman of the Eurogroup. In January 2010 he was confirmed as its chairman for a further two and a half years after the Euro Group had received formal European law status for the first time shortly before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. In March 2012, Juncker announced that he would be relinquishing the chairmanship of the Eurogroup in summer 2012. When he was then appointed chairman of the Eurogroup for a fifth term in July 2012, he announced that he would only hold the chair for six months and that he would resign at the beginning of 2013 at the latest. He renewed this announcement in December 2012. On January 21, 2013, he resigned his mandate and was replaced by the Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem .
Candidacy for President of the European Council and the European Commission
Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, Juncker expressed interest in the post of President of the European Council . Alongside Tony Blair , he was the best-known candidate for this office, with numerous media assuming that Juncker was unable to win a majority in the European Council due to his European federalist positions and that his candidacy primarily wanted to prevent Blair's success. Herman Van Rompuy was eventually elected to office.
For the 2014 European elections , he ran for the EPP as the top candidate, but without running for the European Parliament. It was planned that, within the framework of the new European constitutional treaty and a strengthening of the European Parliament and grassroots democracy, the top candidate of the strongest parliamentary group would become President of the European Commission for the first time and that, unlike before, they would lead a Europe-wide election campaign including debates between the top candidates. Juncker's main rival in the election campaign was the Social Democrats' top candidate Martin Schulz . After the EPP had become the strongest force with Juncker, British Prime Minister David Cameron publicly spoke out against Juncker's candidacy, nomination and election.
President of the European Commission
After weeks of discussion, Juncker was nominated as Commission President by the European Council against Cameron's opposition, who was only supported on this issue by Hungary's Viktor Orbán . On July 15, 2014, the European Parliament voted for Juncker by 422 votes to 250 (47 abstentions, 10 invalid). As President of the EU Commission , Juncker carried out a restructuring of the body of EU commissioners, in which the vice-presidents are to lead so-called clusters, i.e. larger areas of responsibility.
In an interview of the week of Deutschlandfunk on February 12, 2017, Juncker said that he was not seeking a second candidacy for the office of Commission President.
On July 25, 2018, Juncker visited US President Trump at the White House. Trump had previously threatened the EU with tariffs on various products; the EU had announced countermeasures. Juncker managed to defuse the trade dispute.
Economic and social policy
Juncker's positions are, like those of the CSV, moderately conservative-market economy and Christian-democratic, whereby social policy is very important to him. In 2006, Juncker campaigned for a “social relance for the EPP”. Juncker is considered close to European federalism .
As chairman of the Eurogroup , he supported the Lisbon Treaty . He also complained, however, that the social question in the EU had been neglected and repeatedly spoke out in favor of a “social Europe”. Juncker condemned the trend towards social and wage dumping (whereby he was particularly critical of the German government due to its export strategy and wage reductions) and therefore called for European minimum standards in labor law, e.g. B. protection against dismissal or minimum wages.
In Luxembourg there is currently a high minimum wage (“social minimum wage”) compared to other European countries, and there are still a comparatively large number of state benefits, e. B. in the areas of environment, health and social security. Tax and government ratios are below the EU average, but still on average for the OECD member states and thus significantly higher than in other small countries with a strong financial sector such as B. Switzerland (status 2007/2008). Income inequality has remained at the same level since he took office, namely slightly below the EU average (as of 2005).
At the same time, the Luxembourg government continued its strategy under Juncker to attract financial service providers with relatively low tax rates and special investments for international investors (“niche strategy” for a small country). In 2009, Juncker turned against proposals by the then German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück ( Merkel I Cabinet ) to make access to tax havens more difficult across Europe .
Reactions to financial crisis
Juncker changed his initially negative and skeptical attitude towards European financial regulation as a result of the global financial crisis from 2007 onwards . In connection with the euro crisis from 2009 onwards, he criticized the financial speculation and advocated a financial transaction tax , among other things . He also announced that following US pressure, he would loosen banking secrecy in Luxembourg.
Juncker was one of the authors of the Stability and Growth Pact and turned against a pan-European Economic Recovery Plan Krisenabmilderung after the economic crisis from 2007. However spoke Juncker as an economic support since 2008. Community for the introduction of government bonds of EU member states ( euro bonds ) that part one of debt are to be bundled in order to make it easier for financially weaker countries to access more favorable credit terms. The proposal met with criticism from other conservatives in Europe; Juncker announced in 2014 that he would not seek any Eurobonds in the next few years.
The announcement by the then Greek Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou in November 2011 that he would hold a referendum on whether further government spending cuts should be implemented was described by Juncker as being disloyal to the euro countries that support Greece. Juncker also advocated not publicly discussing the euro crisis.
Responses to the refugee crisis
As became clear in September 2015, Juncker advocates the mandatory EU-wide distribution of refugees in order to solve the refugee crisis - even to EU countries that expressly do not want to accept refugees. He also advocates closer cooperation between the EU and Turkey in this regard : “We cannot solely look inwards. We need to make sure that we look at the issues that concern us in the periphery of Europe. Turkey and the European Union need to walk together [down] this path. " ("We must not only look inward. We have to make sure that we also look at the problems on the periphery of Europe. Turkey and the European Union must go this way together.")
Negotiations on CETA, TTIP, etc.
At the end of June 2016, Juncker expressed the view that the planned European-Canadian free trade agreement CETA was exclusively a supranational , European agreement and therefore the approval of national parliaments in Europe was not necessary. This statement was heavily criticized by political leaders and the media. In view of the criticism, he weakened his statement a short time later and said: "I personally don't care."
Accusations of lies
During the euro crisis in 2011, Juncker denied a planned secret meeting of some EU finance ministers on the situation in Greece , which actually took place at the same time. The news agency dapd quoted him in connection with the sentence: "When things get serious, you have to lie." Juncker had said the sentence shortly before at an award ceremony in the Bavarian state representation . Members of the EU Parliament criticized the denial with clear words, including the chairman of the Liberals Guy Verhofstadt and the then chairman of the Socialists Martin Schulz .
After the European elections, Juncker was criticized in various reports for receiving fees for speeches at trade fairs and in front of industrial associations without giving an account of the amount of this income. He also appeared at a conference of the Federal Association of the German Security and Defense Industry on June 24, 2014 in Berlin. According to Juncker, however, all speaking activities are properly declared to the European Parliament and their number is also very manageable.
Position on climate policy
In October 2014, German, French and Austrian business associations criticized the marginalization of EU climate policy by Juncker since his commission presidency. One year after taking office, the climate and energy goals were still to be implemented.
Illegal state aid and tax advantages for large corporations
In October 2014, the European Commission launched an investigation into the tax benefits granted to the Amazon group in Luxembourg. According to the European Commission, the government of Luxembourg, headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, had been providing Amazon with illegal state aid in the form of tax benefits since 2003. In 2013, the Luxembourg-based subsidiaries of Amazon only had to pay 60 to 70 million euros in tax on sales of 13.6 billion euros, which corresponds to a tax rate of around 0.5 percent. In 2015, Juncker was awarded the “Schandfleck des Jahres” (eyesore of the year) by the Austrian “Network for Social Responsibility” as an award for “particularly anti-social companies, institutions or individuals”.
In November 2014, an international research team called Luxemburg-Leaks uncovered that during the term of office of Jean-Claude Juncker since 2002 the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg had concluded complicated tax agreements between more than 340 international corporations and Luxembourg, which channeled hundreds of billions of euros through Luxembourg and thus Save billions in taxes. There are tax agreements, for example, between Luxembourg and Amazon , FedEx , IKEA , PepsiCo , Procter & Gamble , Deutsche Bank , E.ON (see also: Dutchdelta Finance ), Fresenius Medical Care etc. In two cases the EU Commission is investigating whether it is this is a prohibited subsidy. Juncker claimed he did not want to interfere in the investigation. As finance minister, Juncker was the employer of Marius Kohl , the head of the tax authority Sociétés 6 , who discussed and approved tax agreements personally with corporate advisors. In consultation with his employer, then Finance Minister Jean-Claude Juncker or Luc Frieden, Kohl decided most of the applications were positive. Sven Giegold (MEP Greens) said in 2017 that Luxembourg's tax policy under Juncker had led to enormous tax shortfalls in other EU countries. Germany alone lost more than 200 million euros.
In January 2017, on the basis of German diplomatic dispatches, the Guardian accused Juncker of having secretly blocked efforts by the EU through vetoes to address tax avoidance by multinational corporations as Prime Minister : A leaked message said: “It is impressive to see how some member states are doing to the outside world as advocates [international tax reform] and at the same time to see how they really behave in EU discussions when they are protected by confidentiality. "
At the end of May 2017, Juncker was questioned by an investigative committee of the European Parliament about the mailbox affair in Panama ( Panama Papers ) and about initiatives by the EU Commission against money laundering and tax evasion .
Juncker had defended the smallest EU member state, Malta, despite the state's slipping into mafia-like structures for party-tactical reasons, because he had to rely on the vote of its Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in the Council of the European Union .
Juncker has been repeatedly criticized for his unusual public appearances, which are judged to be either special humor or missteps.
In 2015 he gave Viktor Orbán a ritual slap in the face at the EU summit in Riga . Orbán's appearance was previously spoken by Juncker with the words "The dictator is coming!" ironically introduced. As early as 2013, he gave the then Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann a friendly pat on the back of the head during an interview with some paper pages, which he acknowledged with a smile.
The British Labor Minister Amber Rudd attested Juncker “grotesque” and “horrific” behavior towards women and referred to a scene in which he had stroked the hair of the deputy chief of protocol of the EU Commission, Pernilla Sjölin. The former Minister for Women also criticized Juncker for pulling Prime Minister Theresa May by the arm.
In 2003, Juncker was given honorary citizenship of the city of Trier "as a friend and patron of the city" . In 2005 and 2006, Juncker took over the patronage of Prominence for Charity for the benefit of UNICEF .
On May 25, 2006 Juncker received the International Charlemagne Prize of the city of Aachen . The eulogy held former Chancellor Helmut Kohl . As stated in the text of the certificate, which Aachen's mayor Jürgen Linden presented together with the actual award in the form of a medal with an inscription, Juncker received the award “in recognition of his exemplary work for a social and united Europe”.
On December 7th, 2009 the Fasel Foundation (Duisburg) recognized Junckers “outstanding services as an advocate for a socially just and market-based European order” (foundation deed). Juncker was awarded the “Prize of the Fasel Foundation - Social Market Economy 2009” in Duisburg. The laudation was given by the then North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Jürgen Rüttgers .
Juncker also received numerous other awards:
- 1988 Large Federal Cross of Merit with star and shoulder ribbon
- 1988 Grand Cross of the Order of Infante Dom Henrique
- 1994 Grand Cross of the Order of the Oak Crown
- 1998 Honorary Doctorate from Miami University
- 1998 "Vision for Europe Award" from the Edmond Israel Foundation
- 1998 "Future Prize for Social Order" from the CDA magazine "Christian Democratic Workers"
- 1998 "Médaille d'Or du Mérite Européen" (gold medal for services to Europe) of the " Fondation du Mérite Européen "
- 1998 “Golden Duck” of the Saar state press conference
- 1999 " European Craftsman Award " by the "Handwerk in Nordrhein-Westfalen"
- 2000 “Insigne de l'Artisanat en Or” (Gold Craftsman's Badge) from the Luxembourg Chamber of Crafts
- 2001 honorary doctorate from the Westphalian Wilhelms University , Münster
- 2002 Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honor through President Jacques Chirac
- 2002 Cicero speaker award
- 2002 Prize of the European Taxpayers Association
- 2003 honorary doctorate from the University of Bucharest
- 2003 honorary citizen of the city of Trier
- 2003 Grand Cross of the Star of Romania
- 2003 Heinrich Brauns Prize
- 2003 Maju Media Prize for Quality Journalism
- 2003 Quadriga Prize European of the Year from Werkstatt Deutschland
- 2004 Honorary Doctorate from the Democritus University of Thrace
- 2004 Honorary Citizen of the City of Orestiada Handover of the city key of Orestiada and unveiling of a street sign for a street named after the Luxembourg Prime Minister
- 2004 Golden Rascal
- 2005 Walter Hallstein Prize
- 2005 European of the Year
- 2005 Grand Cross of the Portuguese Order of Christ
- 2005 Award of the Elsie Kühn Leitz Prize by the "Association of German-French Societies in Germany and France"
- 2006 Européen de l'Année 2005 (European of the year 2005) by the French press (Trombinoscope)
- 2006 Grand Cross of the Three Star Order
- 2006 International Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen
- 2006 European Prize for Political Culture from the Hans Ringier Foundation
- 2007 Foreign associate member of the Académie des sciences morales et politiques in place of the late Léopold Sédar Senghor
- 2007 patron of the non-profit animal welfare association “Newfoundlanders in Need e. V. "
- 2007 St. Liborius Medal for Unity and Peace of the Archdiocese of Paderborn
- 2007 Coudenhove Kalergi plaque from the Europa-Union Münster
- 2007 European Peace Prize of the Foundation for Ecology and Democracy e. V.
- 2007 honorary doctorate from the Robert Schumann University of Strasbourg
- 2007 Honorary Member of the Luxembourg Institute Grand-Ducal , Section Moral and Political Sciences
- 2008 Amilcar-Cabral-Medal first class of the Republic of Cape Verde
- 2008 word sponsorship for "future zeal"
- 2008 German Citizenship Award
- 2008 Franz Josef Strauss Prize
- 2008 Honorary Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh
- 2008 State Prize of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia
- 2008 Sharpest Blade (Honorary Prize of the City of Solingen)
- 2008 Small State Prize from the Herbert Batliner European Institute in Salzburg
- 2008 European Banker of the Year
- 2009 European Service Economy Prize
- 2009 European Union Medal in gold with a star
- 2009 Prize from the FASEL Foundation for the Social Market Economy, Duisburg
- 2009 Honorary Senator of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts
- 2010 Schwarzkopf-Europa-Preis of the Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe
- 2010 Winfried Prize of the City of Fulda
- 2010 Thomas-a-Kempis honorary stele
- 2010 Great Golden Decoration on Ribbon for Services to the Republic of Austria
- 2010 honorary doctorate from the Medical University of Innsbruck
- 2010 Saarland Order of Merit
- 2011 Hanns Martin Schleyer Prize for 2010
- 2011 Honorary Doctorate from the Faculty of Law, University of Athens
- 2011 Order of Merit of the State of Baden-Württemberg
- 2011 Order of Merit of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate
- 2011 European Culture Prize
- 2011 Medal for special services to Bavaria in a United Europe
- 2012 Werner Blindest Prize
- 2012 Sigillum Magnum of the University of Bologna , together with Romano Prodi and Helmut Kohl
- 2012 Communicator of the Year by the German Public Relations Society
- 2012 Markgräfler Gutedel Prize
- 2013 As part of the Dresden Opera Ball , Juncker received the Order of St. George in the Politics category on February 1st .
- 2013 Honorary Doctorate from the University of Porto
- In 2013, the Grand Cross of the Savior (the highest Greek Order of Merit), the Gold Medal of the Hellenic parliament and the Gold Medal for Distinguished Personalities were him on 11 June 2013 in Athens awarded
- 2013 Prize of the Deutsche Gesellschaft eV for services to German and European unification
- 2013 Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
- 2013 On November 28, the President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė awarded Juncker the Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great for his services to the integration of Lithuania into the European Union and NATO
- 2014 Hermann Ehlers Prize 2013: A European through and through
- 2014 Benedict Prize from Mönchengladbach
- 2014 International Bridge Prize of the European City of Görlitz / Zgorzelec ,
- 2015 Honorary Senator of the association group "We Owner Entrepreneurs"
- 2019 Great Tyrolean Eagle Order
In 1999, Juncker, then in his capacity as Luxembourg's Prime Minister, said of the methods he was encouraging EU leaders to use in European policy:
“We decide something, then put it in the room and wait a while to see what happens. If there is then no great shouting and no uprisings, because most of them do not even understand what was decided, then we continue - step by step, until there is no turning back. "
On the occasion of a conversation with citizens in the Bucharest National Art Museum in Romania , Juncker said on May 11, 2017: "In my life I have met two great destroyers: (Mikhail) Gorbachev , who destroyed the Soviet Union , and David Cameron ." When asked whether other EU states would leave the EU following the example of Great Britain , Juncker said: “No. Because they will see at the autopsy (the ' corpse of Great Britain ') that it is not worth it. "
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|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||Luxembourg politician, member of the Chambre, Prime Minister|
|DATE OF BIRTH||December 9, 1954|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Redingen (Rédange-sur-Attert), Luxembourg|