Barroso and his College of Commissioners are now part of history. Juncker and team took over the shop on Saturday last and set about work. Juncker has commenced the process of change in how the Commission does its work and how it communicates with each citizen in every country. No small task, but one worth getting right.
The UK, whose payment into the EU is now twice what they paid in 2009, appear to want to rewrite the rules. They argue against making an additional payment of E2bn, of which E1bn would go to fund a rebate to France. David Cameron’s EU policy may now be dictated by domestic politics as he attempts to fight off the UKIP challenge. If he continues in conflict on all fronts in Europe, he will find it hard to campaign to stay in Europe, in his promised referendum, should he win next year’s General Election. The UK and the EU need each other. There is a real need for Juncker to spend time and effort in assisting the UK to find a comfortable slot in which to operate within the EU.
The Russian gas supply issue to Europe is resolved for the moment, as Ukraine and Russia reach an agreement, which sees Russia get back payments and an agreed price for their supply over the winter. The full dispute will go to arbitration in the spring. The EU is, in effect, providing the funds to make this agreement possible. In one of his last comments as president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso said: “I am glad that political responsibility, the logic of co-operation and simple economic sense have prevailed. ”The armed conflict continues and Ukraine is chopped up without a military response from Europe. But the trade sanctions imposed by both the EU and Russia are taking effect, yet when it comes to gas, all sides continue to do business.