Merkel says `no tragedy` if Juncker vote not unanimous

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday it will be "no tragedy" if her favoured candidate for European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, is elected with less than a unanimous vote.

AFP| Last Updated: Jun 25, 2014, 16:05 PM IST

Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday it will be "no tragedy" if her favoured candidate for European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, is elected with less than a unanimous vote.

Britain has strongly opposed Juncker of Luxembourg to succeed Portugal`s Jose Manuel Barroso and has demanded a vote by EU leaders on the issue at a Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday.

Merkel, in a speech to the German parliament, stressed that the conservative Juncker could be elected with a qualified majority under EU treaties, and that a less than unanimous vote would be "no tragedy".

She said that the bloc`s consultations should be held "in a European spirit" and added, in a nod to London, that "the concerns of all member states are taken seriously".

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has promised his voters a 2017 referendum on continued EU membership, considers Juncker too "federalist" and too much of a Brussels insider to push deep EU reforms.

Merkel, in the same speech to the Bundestag, also reiterated her commitment to the European Stability and Growth Pact in its current form, rebuffing calls from Paris and Rome to relax it.

The pact, which commits eurozone countries to cap their deficits and debt, "provides an excellent framework" to ensure both economic growth and fiscal discipline, Merkel said.

"It sets clear rules and offers a multitude of opportunities for flexibility."

A number of countries including France and Italy have proposed loosening the fiscal rules to allow them to invest more and push policies that support growth and job creation.

Merkel`s vice chancellor and economy minister, Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel, has fuelled the debate by saying countries undertaking reforms need more room on deficit rules.

Merkel reiterated Wednesday that for eurozone countries "only structural reforms over time can ensure sustainable growth," sticking to the line she has pushed since the beginning of the debt crisis in 2010.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Tuesday that running up new debt would be "the worst mistake" possible now for European countries.