In the aftermath of the Brexit fiasco, the biggest fissure that emerged was not between the economies of the UK and Europe, nor between the stock markets of the UK and Europe, both of which have spiked on the back of another round of central bank liquidity promises, but between Angela Merkel, and the alcohol-afficionado who erroneously believes is the head of Europe, Jean-Claude Juncker. Unfortunately for the latter, he is now on his way out because as the Telegraph reports, citing a Sunday Times interview with a German government minister, Merkel has finally decided to oust Europe’s federalist chief Jean-Claude Juncker "within the next year."
The catalyst for those who have been following the Brexit fallout should not come as a surprise: as we first reported a week ago in 'More Confusion: EU Tells Cameron To Hurry Up With Article 50 As Merkel Says No Need To Rush", the German chancellor’s frustration with the European Commission chief came as Europe split over whether to use the Brexit negotiations as a trigger to deepen European integration or take a more pragmatic approach to Britain as it heads for the exit door.
“The pressure on him [Juncker] to resign will only become greater and Chancellor Merkel will eventually have to deal with this next year,” an unnamed German minister told The Sunday Times, adding that Berlin had been furious with Mr Juncker “gloating” over the UK referendum result. Look no further than "Juncker Lashes Out At British Lawmakers: "Why Are You Here?"" for an example of just that.
Furthermore, Juncker’s constant and unabashed calls for “more Europe” - many of which have come in an intoxicated or outright drugged state - has led to several of Europe other dissenting members – including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic – to lay some of the blame for Brexit at his door.
Even before he was appointed President of the European Commission - against the wishes of David Cameron - concerns were raised about Mr Juncker's alchohol consumption which were dismissed as a "smear campaign" by his officials. It was, however, all true: at the time The Telegraph and several other newspapers reported officials worrying about Mr Juncker having "cognac for breakfast" and rolling through long negotiations fortified with large quantities of claret and brandy.
Some have had enough of Europe's most humiliating alcoholic, and since the June 23 vote both the Czech and Polish foreign ministers have called publicly for Mr Juncker to resign, moves that one senior EU official dismissed last week as “predictable”. However, the rumblings from Berlin now represent a much more serious threat to Mr Juncker’s tenure. The split also offers a glimmer of hope for British negotiators who are preparing for fractious EU-UK divorce talks and are desperate to avoid a repeat of February’s failed negotiations which - controlled as they were by Mr Juncker and the Commission - left David Cameron without enough ‘wins’ to avoid Brexit.
Meanwhile, Juncker's European Commission is being shut down by members:
“Everyone is determined that this negotiation is handled in the European Council – i.e. between the 27 heads of government – and not by the Commission, the eurocrats and the EU ‘theologians’ in Brussels,” a senior UK source told The Telegraph.
In a signal that battle has partly already been won, Mrs Merkel pointedly met with French and Italian leaders in Berlin last week, excluding Mr Juncker from the conversation. As the Telegraph adds, British strategists hope that creating a much broader negotiation that includes the UK’s role in keeping Europe geopolitically relevant through its deep Nato ties, defence contributions and links to Washington, they can avoid a narrow tit-for-tat negotiation on trade where the UK has only very limited leverage.
At its core, Merkel’s anger reflects a growing schism in Europe between the likes of Juncker and the French and Belgian leaders, who want to see “more Europe” after Brexit, and those, like Merkel and her powerful finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble who believe that would be “crazy”, according to the Times. Prior to the Brexit vote senior European Commission officials were privately jubilant about the opportunity that a British ‘leave’ vote would present to complete the European project, sucking reluctant countries like Poland into the Euro “within five years”.
Since the Brexit vote, French ministers have been far less conciliatory to the UK than German, openly salivating at the prospect of UK-based financial businesses relocating to Paris. If so, the French will be disappointed as we hinted in "Is This Where All Those Companies "Leaving England" Will Go." After all, few companies are so insane to leave the stability London for the socialist purgatory of Paris.