Speaking this morning in a European Parliament debate with Jean-Claude Juncker, GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said: “We've heard a lot of talk about this being an 'historic day' but I want to water that down because I don't really believe it.

“Yes, we took a step in the right direction by taking into account the results of the elections in deciding who will be in charge of the Commission, but this is only the beginning; it is a very small step. Not enough was done in the past few months to make this credible. The conservatives claim to have 'won' the elections but we know this is not the case. Democracy is being reduced to discussions on positions and power struggles. We should be building democracy up from the bottom.”

Addressing Mr. Juncker directly, she said: “You must look at the way you will be shaping the policy of the Commission in the future. What we should do is look at alternatives to the TINA (“There is no alternative”) policies we have seen so far. What role will the Commission play in the Troika? It is not just a question of making it more democratic, if the Troika sticks to the same policies, disrespecting fundamental rights, people's lives will continue to be destroyed. We don't want to see more rigid cutbacks to public budgets, a further breakdown of the social model, more privatisation and increased erosion of ecological standards. We need to see an EU that acts as a force for peace and solidarity.”

She continued: “Last week when you came to address our Group meeting some of our questions were answered, others were not. You mentioned you want to raise social standards, but we need to know the specifics about how you intend to do so. We must have a minimum wage that prevents poverty.”

“We did not vote for you today but we will support you where you really want to improve the social situation of the people.”

Zimmer also urged Juncker to be a proactive Commission President by looking at a wider range of problems across the EU, such as the Cyprus question.

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group

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