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Juncker lays out stall to EU parliament

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 02:23

As the European Parliament endorses his new Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker pledges to present a 300-billion euro investment plan by year-end - but warns EU deficit rules will not be weakened. Ciara Lee reports.

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The new president of European Commission - Jean-Claude Juncker. The former prime minister of Luxembourg wasted no time in laying out his plans to get the euro zone back on the straight and narrow. (SOUNDBITE) INCOMING EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT, JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, SAYING: "When we are saying we need fiscal consolidation and investment because we need growth and jobs, then this is not about poetry and literature, we are a program. And I will present this investment package not by the end of January as initially planned, but by the end of December." Juncker's end-of-year target date to present his 300 billion euro plan is a bold one, and one Rabobank's Jan Lambregts says holds big challenges. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GLOBAL HEAD OF FINANCIAL MARKETS RESEARCH AT RABOBANK INTERNATIONAL, JAN LAMBREGTS, SAYING: "Our current models are pointing at roughly 20 percent odds of recession in the euro zone. That's of course a moving model and it's of course been moving up those odds. I know the IMF places it at 40 percent. So people are talking about the risk of recession. What we're now pinpointing is of course the lack of structural reforms in the euro zone. If you think back to the Lisbon agenda over a decade ago, it had the aim to turn the euro zone into the most competitive area in the world. Instead, 10 years later, the euro zone was in the middle of a financial crisis." Significantly Juncker spoke in German for part of his speech ahead of the vote, focussing on investment restoring growth in the region, something Germany has been resisting. Outgoing president Jose Manuel Barroso left on an optimistic note, saying he does not expect the region to slip back into recession. But with minimal growth in Germany and an ailing French economy, the positivity isn't widespread. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GLOBAL HEAD OF FINANCIAL MARKETS RESEARCH AT RABOBANK INTERNATIONAL, JAN LAMBREGTS, SAYING: "I think a lot of policy makers in the euro zone are actually tired, voters are tired. There is not much stomach for more work, but more work will need to be done to raise growth rates and I don't think it will easily happen." And there could be more trouble ahead for France. Juncker announced the EU's budget rules that limit the size of government deficits and public debt will not be weakened. France and Italy are both pushing for leniency in their budget consolidation efforts. Juncker also took the opportunity to address the swathe of euro-sceptic success in the European elections. His team is to focus on carrying out major programmes while leaving lesser matters to national governments. That was a key demand from Britain, where there are strong demands for the country to quit the EU. Juncker warned of the 'extremists on the left and right that are nipping at the EU's heels', and vowed to breathe new life into the European project.

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Juncker lays out stall to EU parliament

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 02:23