Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourgish: [ʒ̊ɑːŋ kloːd ˈjʊŋkɐ]; born 9 December 1954) is a Luxembourg politician, 23rd and current Prime Minister of Luxembourg since 20 January 1995. He is the longest-serving head of government of any European Union state, and the longest-serving democratically elected current head of any government in the world. He has been President of the Euro Group, the political control over the euro currency, since the creation of a semi-permanent position in 2005.
Elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the Christian Social People's Party in 1984, Juncker was immediately promoted to Jacques Santer's cabinet as Minister for Work. He was Luxembourg's Minister for Finances from 1989 to 2009, and became Prime Minister when Santer became President of the European Commission in 1995. In his capacity of Prime Minister, he also served two six-month terms as President of the European Council, in 1997 and 2005.
Early life and education
Juncker was born in Redange and spent most of his childhood in Belvaux. His father had fought in World War II after being forcibly recruited into the Wehrmacht, and was a steelworker and a member of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions. Juncker studied at Clairefontaine in Belgium before returning to Luxembourg to attain his baccalaureate in the Lycée Michel Rodange. Around that time, in 1974, he joined the Christian Social People's Party. Juncker went on to study law at the University of Strasbourg, attaining a Master of Law degree in 1979. Although he was sworn in to the Luxembourg Bar Council in 1980, he never practised as a lawyer.
Early political career
Juncker returned to Luxembourg, and his oratorical skills earned him a promotion to the position of Parliamentary Secretary. He earned election to the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg for the first time in 1984 and immediately took the office of Minister for Labour under Jacques Santer. This led to a chairpersons' role at a number of meetings of the Council of the European Communities, where Juncker's pro-Europe credentials first emerged.
Shortly before the 1989 election, Juncker was seriously injured in a road traffic accident, spending two weeks in a coma. He nonetheless recovered in time to be returned to the Chamber of Deputies once more, picking up the Finance portfolio along with his Ministry of Labour post. The Ministry of Finance post is traditionally seen as a rite of passage to the premiership of the country, and his eventual promotion to Prime Minister seemed at this time inevitable, with political commentators concluding that Santer was grooming Juncker as his heir. Juncker at this time accepted the position of Governor of the World Bank.
Ascent to premiership
Juncker's second election to Parliament saw him gain prominence in the European Union. Juncker chaired the Council of Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN), becoming a key architect of the Maastricht Treaty. Juncker was largely responsible for clauses on economic and monetary union (the process that would eventually give rise to the Euro) and was himself a signatory to the treaty in 1992, by which time he had taken over as parliamentary leader of the Christian Social People's Party.
Juncker was re-elected to the Chamber in 1994, maintaining both his ministerial roles. With Jacques Santer ready to be nominated as the next President of the European Commission, it was only six months later, on 20 January 1995, that Grand Duke Jean approved the appointment of Juncker as Prime Minister, as part of a coalition with the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party. Juncker relinquished his post at the World Bank at this time (swapping it for governorship of the International Monetary Fund) but maintained his previous ministerial positions; he was now the Minister of State, of Labour and Employment and of the Treasury.
Juncker's first term as Prime Minister was focused on an economic platform of international bilateral ties to improve Luxembourg's profile abroad, which included a number of official visits abroad. During one such visit, to Dublin in December 1996, Juncker successfully mediated a dispute over his own EU Economic and Monetary Union policy between French president Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The press dubbed Juncker the Hero of Dublin for achieving an unlikely consensus between the two.
1997 brought the rotating Presidency of the European Council to Luxembourg for the first time in Juncker's administration. Juncker championed the cause of social integration in Europe, along with constituting the so-called "Luxembourg Process" for integrated European policy against unemployment. He also instigated the "Euro 11", an informal group of European finance ministers for matters regarding his Economic and Monetary Union ideals. For all of these initiatives, he was honored with the Vision for Europe Award in 1998.
Juncker succeeded in winning another term as Prime Minister in the 1999 elections, although the coalition with the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party was broken in favour of one with the Democratic Party. After the 2004 elections, the Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party became the second largest party again, and Juncker again formed a coalition with them. Shortly after re-election, Juncker found himself misinformed at a European Union summit over the condition of then-ailing Palestinian National Authority leader Yasser Arafat. Juncker mistakenly announced his death prematurely, before retracting the claim citing misunderstanding.
In 2005, Juncker inherited a second term as European President. Shortly after the expiration of his term came Luxembourg's referendum on ratification, and Juncker staked his political career on its success, promising to resign if the referendum failed. The final result was a 56.5% Yes vote on an 88% turnout. His continued allegiance to European ideals earned him the 2006 Karlspreis.
In 2009, he denounced the lifting of the excommunication of controversial bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the Society of Saint Pius X.
President of the Eurogroup
"Monetary policy is a serious issue. We should discuss this in secret,
in the Eurogroup [...] I'm ready to be insulted as being insufficiently
democratic, but I want to be serious [...] I am for secret, dark debates"
— Jean-Claude Juncker, 20 April 2011.
Juncker assumed the presidency of the Eurogroup on 1 January 2005. Juncker is currently the longest-serving head of government of any European Union state. It is often suggested in the press that he, like his predecessor Santer, will eventually give up his position as Prime Minister to assume the presidency of the European Commission, but Juncker continues to deny he has any plans to resign.
Awards and honours
- 1988 - Grand Federal Cross of Merit with Star and shoulder ribbon
- 1988 - Grand Cross of the Order of Infante Dom Henrique
- 1998 - Honorary doctorate from Miami University
- 1998 - "Vision for Europe Award" of the Edmond Israel Foundation
- 1998 - Award for the future social order "of the CDA-magazine (" Christian-Democratic-labor force "
- 1998 - "Médaille d'Or European Order of Merit" (Gold Medal for services to Europe) of the "Fondation European Order of Merit"
- 1998 - Golden Duck "of the country's press conference Saar
- 1999 - European Crafts Prize 1999 "by the" trade in North Rhine-Westphalia "
- 2000 - Insignia de l'Artisanat en Or "(crafts badges in gold) of the Luxembourg Chamber of crafts
- 2001 - Honorary Doctor of the University of Münster, Münster
- 2002 - Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honor by President Jacques Chirac
- 2002 - Cicero-speakers Price
- 2002 - Prize of the European Federation of Taxpayers
- 2003 - Honorary Doctor of the University of Bucharest
- 2003 - Honorary Citizen of the city of Trier.
- 2003 - Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania
- 2003 - Heinrich Braun Award
- 2003 - Maju-media award for quality journalism
- 2003 - Quadriga Prize of the European Year of Germany society workshop
- 2004 - Honorary Doctor of the Democritus University of Thrace
- 2004 - Honorary Citizen of Orestiada surrender of the city of Orestiada key unveiling of a street sign and a street named after the Luxembourg Prime Minister
- 2004 - Golden Bandit
- 2005 - Walter-Hallstein Prize
- 2005 - Europeans of the Year
- 2005 - Grand Cross of the Portuguese Order of Christ
- 2005 - awarded the Elsie Kuhn-Leitz-price by the "Association Franco-German companies in Germany and France
- 2006 - Européen de l'Année 2005 (European of the Year 2005) of the French press (Trombinoscope)
- 2006 - Grand Cross of the Order of the Three Stars (Latvia)
- 2006 - International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen
- 2006 - European Prize for Political Culture of the Hans Ringier Foundation
- 2007 - Foreign Associate Member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences at the Institut de France in place of the late Leopold Sedar Senghor
- 2007 - The patron of the non-profit animal protection association "Newfoundlanders in Not eV"
- 2007 - St. Liborius Medal for Unity and Peace of the Archdiocese of Paderborn
- 2007 - Coudenhove-Kalergi Medal of the European Union Munster
- 2007 - Peace Prize of the European Foundation for Ecology and Democracy
- 2007 - Honorary Doctor of Robert Schuman University of Strasbourg
- 2007 - Honorary Member of the Luxembourg Grand Ducal Institute, Department of Moral and Political Sciences
- 2008 - Amilcar Cabral Medal, First Class of the Republic of Cape Verde
- 2008 - Sponsorship word for "zeal of the future"
- 2008 - German citizenship price
- 2008 - Franz-Josef-Strauss-price
- 2008 - Honorary Doctor of the University of Pittsburgh
- 2008 - State Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia
- 2008 - sharpest blade (prize of the city of Solingen)
- 2008 - Award of the Small States of Herbert Batliner-Europa Institute in Salzburg
- 2008 - European Banker of the Year
- 2009 - European price of the service economy
- 2009 - European Union Medal in Gold with Star
- 2009 - Award of FASEL Foundation - Social Market Economy, MA
- 2009 - Honorary Senator of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts
- 2010 - Prize of the City of Fulda Winfried
- 2010 - Thomas a-Kempis Honorary stele
- 2010 - Grand Gold Medal of the Order of Merit to the Republic of Austria
- 2010 - Honorary Doctor of Medicine University of Innsbruck
- 2010 - Saarland Order of Merit
- 2011 - Honorary Doctor of the Faculty of Law, University of Athens
- 2011 - Order of Merit of Baden-Württemberg
- 2011 - Hanns Martin Schleyer award
- 2011 - Order of Merit of Rhineland-Palatinate
- 2011 - European Culture Prize
- 2012 - Werner Blindert Prize
- 2012 - Sigillum Magnum, University of Bologna.
- 2012 - Honorary Doctor of the University of Sheffield
- Réaction de Jean-Claude Juncker à la réhabilitation par le pape d'un évêque négationniste
- "Eurogroup chief: 'I'm for secret, dark debates'", EUobserver, 21 April 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.