PM “not as isolated in Europe as many suggest” – says IoD

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Reality and pragmatism must now dictate the Government’s approach to reform

27 June 2014

Responding to the nomination this afternoon of Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission, Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

"Now that the Council has nominated Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission president, British eyes should fix their attention on shaping his policy priorities and building bridges to ensure a key economic portfolio is secured.

"While it is admirable – and refreshing – that a British Prime Minister should stand up for principle and the UK’s interests in Europe, reality and pragmatism must now dictate the Government's approach to reform.

"Britain is nowhere near as isolated as many commentators would have us believe. A number of leaders agree with the UK's economic reform agenda, and Mr Cameron must draw on this support to push the new Commission to focus on boosting competitiveness for the EU as a whole.”

Business priorities for UK Commissioner

Walker added:

“The IoD believes the Prime Minister should target one of three key portfolios for the UK’s Commissioner. Obtaining any of these highly sought-after posts will require a top flight candidate who has senior level experience in government.”

Allie Renison, Europe and Trade Policy Adviser analyses the three portfolios:

Internal Market

“The UK has long pushed for the completion of the Single Market in services, including digital services, and acquiring the Internal Market portfolio would enable the UK to turn this objective into a reality. An area of concern in the past has been financial sector regulation which disproportionately affects the UK. A number of pieces of legislation pushed through by the last Commissioner Michel Barnier are currently being challenged by HM Treasury, indicating that British interests have not always been fully considered. Perhaps most importantly, this brief is crucial to ensuring that it is the Single Market which continues to underpin the EU, rather than the Euro. Given its recent exclusive focus on legislation setting up the banking union, this is a key priority to keep the interests of non-euro member states and the Eurozone on an equal footing.“


“With its central role in overseeing the operation of much of the EU’s commercial policy, and as Europe’s merger authority, Competition is arguably the Commission’s most powerful portfolio. The Competition Commissioner’s responsibility for preventing public subsidies from being used from prop up favoured industries has been a counterfoil to interventionist governments. A free market-oriented British Commissioner could act to promote competition and trade. The scope for enforcement to create a level playing field afforded by the Competition portfolio is one which the UK would take up with great relish.”


“Perhaps the area which holds the most potential for bringing together the interests of the UK and the rest of the EU is energy. The importance of this portfolio has recently been highlighted by a number of events, from the shale revolution, to questions around security of supply and how Europe is going to generate electricity at competitive rates. The EU’s focus on climate change and efficiency standards to date has had implications for consumer affordability and industrial competitiveness. A British Commissioner for Energy would be well-placed to clarify European priorities in this area to ensure business remains competitive. The Single Market in energy is also far from complete, with full deregulation of the gas and electricity markets still some way off. A bold British deregulator could make a world of difference in this portfolio. Ensuring flexibility in national energy mixes, while pushing through British-style unbundling across the EU would be a big win for the UK and Europe.”  


Contacts for further comments or to arrange interviews:

Christian May
Head of Media Relations

Institute of Directors, 116 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ED

020 7451 3263

07908 358 728

Edwin Morgan
Deputy Head of Media Relations

Institute of Directors, 116 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5ED

020 7451 3392

07814 386 243

Notes to editors

  • The Institute of Directors (IoD) was founded in 1903 and obtained a Royal Charter in 1906. The IoD is a non-party political organisation with approximately 34,500 members in the United Kingdom and overseas. Membership includes directors from right across the business spectrum – from media to manufacturing, e-business to the public and voluntary sectors. Members include CEOs of large corporations as well as entrepreneurial directors of start-up companies.
  • The IoD provides an effective voice to represent the interests of its members to key opinion-formers at the highest levels. These include Government ministers and their shadows, parliamentary committee members, senior civil servants and think-tanks. IoD policies and views are actively promoted to the national, regional and trade media. Follow us on  to get the IoD’s reaction on business and public policy issues.
  • The IoD offers a wide range of business services which include business centre facilities, with 15 UK centres (including three in London, Reading, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Nottingham, Norwich, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast) and one in Paris, conferences, networking events, virtual offices, issues-led guides and literature, as well as free access to business information and advisory services. The IoD places great emphasis on director development and has established a certified qualification for directors – Chartered Director – as well as running specific board and director-level training and individual career mentoring programmes.
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