Juncker, Jean-Claude (Luxembourg)
Jean-Claude Juncker was appointed prime minister in Jan. 1995, replacing Jacques Santer who became president of the European Commission. Having been re-elected as prime minister in 1999, 2004 and 2009, Juncker was at the time of his resignation in July 2013 Europe’s longest-serving head of government. Committed to European integration, he played an important role in the decisions leading up to the creation of the European Union’s single currency (euro). In 2014 he became president of the European Commission.
Juncker was born in Redange-sur-Attert on 9 Dec. 1954. He obtained his primary and secondary education in Luxembourg and Belgium. Having studied law at the University of Strasbourg, he was admitted to the Bar of Luxembourg in Feb. 1980. He was an active member of the CSV and chaired its youth organization from 1979–84. Juncker was appointed state secretary for employment and social affairs in 1982. In 1984 he was elected to Parliament for the first time as minister of labour, minister of social security and minister in charge of the budget. When Luxembourg held the presidency of the European Community in 1985, Juncker chaired the council of ministers for social affairs and the budget. In 1990 he was elected party leader of the CSV. As president of the EC Economic and Finance Council in 1991, Juncker was among the core co-authors of the Treaty of Maastricht. He was a governor of the World Bank from 1989–95, and since 1995 has been the country’s governor of the European Investment Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Juncker concurrently held the position of prime minister, minister of state and of the Treasury. In Oct. 2000 his government oversaw the abdication of the King, Grand Duke Jean, in favour of his son Prince Henri. In Feb. 2002 Juncker was awarded the Légion d’Honneur by French President Jacques Chirac. Following his re-election in mid-2004, he formed a new CSV coalition government with the Socialist Workers’ Party. From Jan.–June 2005 he led Luxembourg’s 6-month presidency of the European Union. In Dec. 2008 Luxembourg’s parliament voted to amend the constitution so that bills no longer need the approval of Grand Duke Henri before passing into law following a controversy over proposed euthanasia legislation. In the June 2009 elections the CSV increased its vote share and its representation in the Chamber of Deputies and Juncker began his fourth term as prime minister at the head of the CSV–LSAP coalition.
On 11 July 2013 Juncker resigned as prime minister and called for quick elections following claims of several cases of misconduct by the country’s security agency, which the prime minister oversees. He remained the head of a caretaker government until snap elections were held in Oct. and negotiations over the formation of a coalition government took place. In Dec. 2013 Xavier Bettel was sworn in as the new prime minister, bringing an end to Juncker’s 18 years as the head of government.
In June 2014 Juncker was named as the next president of the European Commission. He took office on 1 Nov. 2014.