‘EU will see 100th anniversary’ but will never become a state – Juncker
Juncker spoke to German ZDF TV a day ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community (EEC), and which itself led to the European Union.
When asked by a reporter whether the bloc will live to see its 70th birthday, Juncker gave a rather optimistic response.
“There will be a 100th anniversary of the European Union.”
While acknowledging the advantages of the EU, some of its practices leave much to be desired, he noted, citing a significant lack of unity and solidarity among its members.
“We are suffering from the fact that we are making decisions and these decisions are being inadequately implemented in some European countries,” Juncker said, adding that when “solidarity is declared,” what is in fact happening is just “navel-gazing” – particularly regarding the refugee influx into the EU, which peaked in 2015.
The EU can overcome its difficulties only through close cooperation between member states, the EU Commission president believes.
“During the refugee crisis, the Council of Ministers... adopted steps to act in solidarity. Some do not adhere to this decision. But that does not change the fact that solidarity is still a trend. One cannot leave Italy alone, Greece alone with the problems arising from the refugee influx. We have to deal with them together,” Juncker said.
This approach, however, should not result in the total unification of Europe, as its true strength lies in its diversity, and unification might “kill Europe,” Juncker believes.
“Anyone who wants to make a not recognizable ‘Mixtum Compositum’ from Europe has not understood anything about Europe, its diversity, its colors and its cultural wealth,” Junker said.
EU integration does not have the ultimate goal of creating a “United States of Europe,” and “we will never experience the European Union becoming a state,” according to Juncker.
The EU Commission president is also reluctant to accept new members into the union, as the EU should not be perceived as a way to “replace an Iron Curtain” in Eastern Europe.
“My favorite scenario would be, that we make everything to 27,” Juncker stressed, referring to the decision last year of the UK to leave the bloc, which would leave a total of 27 states.
Lack of unity on certain issues has been plaguing the EU for several years, as member states did not show much solidarity when confronted with serious problems like the economic crisis.
The severe economic problems in Greece prompted the EU Commission to urge other member states to not turn “turn their backs” on the impoverished country, which has also been struggling to cope with the migrant influx.
The open-border policy, advocated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has not always been well received by other member states. Last year’s plans to introduce a refugee admission quota system, based on the member state’s wealth and population – and favored by the EU Commission and Berlin – met staunch resistance from eastern member states, namely Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. Several top Hungarian officials even threatened to leave the bloc if the migrant-related policies were not changed.