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PM urged to reconsider on Juncker

David Cameron has been urged to look "very seriously" at what Jean-Claude Juncker could offer as the new president of the European Commission.

The advice came from the Portuguese secretary of state for Europe, who said the federalist could represent Britain's interests as the two politicians had similar stances on a number of issues.

Bruno Macaes told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We are in this together, we have to reach a consensual decision. UK has to be a team player.

"He (Juncker) is a man that can build consensus. He is a man that is very close to the British position, for example, on foreign affairs. He is a centre-right candidate. I think Mr Cameron should look very seriously on what Juncker can offer.

"I support Mr Juncker, but I also don't want a European super-state... He understands how important it is to have free trade, to have smart regulation, to have markets working, to have civil society that is autonomous from political power.

"If you look carefully, you see he agrees with Cameron's positions on many things."

Mr Macaes also said there was a "strong view" in Europe that Mr Juncker had a "double kind of legitimacy", having been picked by voters in the European elections, albeit indirectly, and by leaders at the Dublin Congress.

His comments came after Mr Cameron reportedly vowed to take Britain out of the EU if Mr Juncker becomes the next head, prompting accusations of blackmail from some German newspapers.

It has also emerged that German chancellor Angela Merkel has thrown her support behind Mr Juncker, dealing a blow to the Tory leader.

Mr Cameron, who branded the EU "too big, too bossy and too interfering" in light of the victory of Eurosceptic parties at the polls last month, has been leading the attempt to block the former Luxembourg prime minister.

Both Ms Merkel and Mr Juncker's parties are members of the European People's Party (EPP) bloc, the centre-right group that gained the most seats in last month's election.

Meanwhile, in its annual report to member states, the European Commission has recommended Britain raise taxes on high-value properties, build more houses and adjust the Help to Buy scheme in its annual report.

Asked about the European Commission's recommendations, Lord Turner, former head of the Financial Services Authority, said there were some "legitimate issues" about tax on housing.

Speaking on the Today programme, he said there should be higher council tax on higher-value homes.

He said: "I'm amazed how little I pay on my house in Kensington compared with what somebody pays with a house worth a very small fraction of that in the north of England. I'm not sure that is a fair system."

He also said the UK needed an economic model of growth that was not so dependent on credit growth and interest rates could not remain permanently at 0.5% because it would tempt people to borrow too much, piling up debt for the future.


From Belfast Telegraph