Commission president also said Britain had ‘reviled’ the EU from start in a lighthearted analysis
Daniel Boffey in Copenhagen – The Guardian
Jean-Claude Juncker has warned the danger for the EU is that Europeans have “lost their collective libido” for each other, but added that in Britain the “bride” – the EU – had been “systematically reviled” from the start and then “rejected”.
A few days before a leaders’ summit on the future of the bloc in the Romanian city of Sibiu, the president of the European commission offered a whimsical analysis of the state of the continent.
Juncker, who is set to leave his role in November, said that he believed that the EU’s executive branch under his leadership had focused on the “big things” while exercising “modesty in the small things”.
“I have ensured that the commission no longer gets involved in every tiny detail of citizens’ lives,” he said. “I am both surprised and disappointed that no one has notice this.”
But the former prime minister of Luxembourg, weeks before the European elections, conceded that the growth of Eurosceptic parties was an ominous sign for the continent.
“We don’t love each other,” Juncker said. “We have lost our collective libido … Five or six years after the second world war there was one. Yet these days it should be much easier for Europeans to fall in love with each other than it was in 1952.”
Juncker added: “Brexit is a special case. If you pepper a nation for 40 years with the message that it doesn’t actually belong in the EU, then the decision to leave is the logical outcome. The bride was systematically reviled and then rejected.”
In an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt Juncker also cited the Brexit impasse in Westminster in arguing that it was unfair for European citizens to blame every failure in European democracy on Brussels.
He said: “The European commission is doing its best. But it cannot solve every problem. The commission cannot compensate for the weaknesses of the national governments and democracies in Europe. Look at the United Kingdom.
“The fact that the government and the opposition there only started to talk to each other three years after the Brexit referendum is hardly a sign of strength for the British democracy.”