posted at 03:50
Author Name: Bryan McManus
Junckers new EU Commission takes office
The agenda is heavy, with Juncker making it his first task to launch a 300 billion euro investment plan by Christmas to kickstart a faltering economy plagued by stubborn, near-record unemployment. "Now it's time to roll up the sleeves and get down to work. Europe's challenges cannot wait," Juncker said in a statement Saturday. The Commission, the EU's executive arm, wields huge powers from the massive glass-and-steel Berlaymont headquarters in central Brussels, drawing up the legislative proposals needed to put the member states' decisions into effect. Its 23,500 strong staff also submit myriad proposals across the whole agenda, be it on the economy or environment for member state leaders to consider when they meet in the European Council. Juncker is no stranger to the halls of power in Brussels. Juncker succeeds Portugal's Jose Manuel Barroso who served 10 years, during which time the EU expanded from 15 to 28 members and the Commission gained unprecedented powers in economic policy, including the right to vet eurozone member state budgets. The parlous state of the economy with growth struggling and new jobs in short supply, has taken the gloss off the European dream for many and eurosceptic parties made significant gains in May elections. In response, Juncker has promised repeatedly to make Europe work again for its 500 million citizens.

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