Wednesday, December 8

Jean-Claude Juncker gives his opinion on Merkel’s European legacy

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel is by far the longest-serving political figure among all current EU leaders. He helped lead the bloc through the migration crisis, the euro crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic. But what is your true European legacy?

To give an idea of ​​Merkel’s time as chancellor and her role within the EU, euronews spoke with another longtime European political leader, former EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Can you share with us some of Angela Merkel’s memorable moments, things you will never forget from the years you worked together?

Former President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker:

“Oh, she is a person full of humor, although in Germany she is known to be realistic, serious, she always imitated her colleagues, including me. But she never imitated me when I was there. But she was imitating Sarkozy, Trump.” and others in a wonderful way. She was an artist doing it. “

Do you remember any confrontations that you have had in the past during all these crises?

Former President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker:

“Well, I had clashes with her. Yes, clashes, yes, important disputes, mainly in Greece because the Germans, their own parliamentary group, the German press, did not respect the dignity of the Greek people. And that is why I told her that Greece was different. of the opinion he had about Greece. “

Could you say that you convinced her?

Former President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker:

“No, I was trying to do it. I was successful together with others, mainly the French President, Francois Hollande, at the time and, yes, his own finance minister, Schäuble, who was a good friend of mine, and by the way, he was a Very pro-European guy. I wanted to temporarily exclude Greece from the euro zone. I was a strong opponent of that idea. She never shared that idea, but never denied the usefulness of that idea. But at the end of the day, she’s always reasoning in perspective He thought this could lead us into troubled waters with Italy and some others. “

What it has described and how it is generally described is like pragmatic politics. But for you, what was his greatest achievement and what was his greatest failure?

Former President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker:

“I think his biggest failure was the reluctance he showed during the Greek crisis because of his hesitations and reluctance, we were wasting time. Greece could have been helped earlier.”

Apart from Greece in general, what was your greatest achievement? What was most of your legacy, your European legacy?

Former President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker:

“In my opinion, the biggest achievement was the role he played during the refugee crisis in August, September 2015. He was strictly against the idea of ​​closing the German border between Austria, Tyrol and Bavaria, Germany because there (too) her thinking was a perspective-oriented way of tackling this great crisis because she told me, I had her on the phone in August, September 15th all the time, and we met very often, she said, “What will the picture be? of the European Union for the outside world and what will be the image of Germany before the outside world if we close the borders, if we put army and police on the border with Austria, rejecting these poor people? Many of them come from Syria, others From Afghanistan he comes from everywhere, poor people, desperate people. And he was doing it against the majority of German public opinion and against the majority of his own CDU parliamentary group. A leader is someone who can say no to his own countryside.

So she was a leader at this point.

Former President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker:

“Yes, she was a leader. What is Merkel’s legacy in Europe? The legacy is that she definitely anchored Germany in Europe. She made it clear to German citizens that Europe is part of the German ‘raison d’Etat’.” And that is her greatest legacy because, after her, there will be no chancellor who is not pro-European. “

Will Germany maintain its leadership in Europe after Merkel?

Former President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker:

“There is no German leadership in Europe. That is a German vision shared by the Greeks and everyone else, but the European Union was never a group of countries led by Germany. That is not true. But Germany has played an important role, The largest country, the strongest economy, the country with the largest number of European neighbors. Therefore, Germany has to play its role in the center of the continent. And Germany is very close to central, central and eastern Europe. Therefore, Germany has a role to play regardless of who is the chancellor in Germany. But she did it in a very careful way, I have to say, wise and intelligent because she was listening to all the countries, the big countries, the medium-sized countries. or the smaller countries. She never, when I was Prime Minister together with her, never gave me the impression that she was treating me with benign negligence. No, no, no. She was giving me the impression that I was as important as or the president of the United States. “

And in the end, what will Europe be like in the coming years, in your opinion, in a global scenario that is changing?

Former President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker:

“The global scenario is changing, but the European Union is not changing enough. We are not adapting to the future new world, the world as it is written in 2030, 2040 (?). And I think that the international role of the European Union should increase, including the international role of the euro, our common currency. We should not be too modest, but we should not try to lecture the whole world. This is a European non-virtue that whenever we are in Africa or Asia, we are telling them how to do the same. things. They don’t like that. And it is not Europe’s role to teach others lessons, but to lead by example. “

Do we have charismatic leaders to lead the train?

Former President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker:

“It has to be proven.”

To see Jean Claude Juncker’s full interview, click on the media player above.

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