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
“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:
“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
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