Jean-Claude Juncker: Marine Le Pen ‘won’t win’
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says far-right candidate Marine Le Pen won’t win France’s presidential election.
In an outspoken interview with Bild am Sonntag ahead of next week’s celebrations to mark the European Union’s 60th anniversary, Juncker said: “The European Union will survive Marine Le Pen because she won’t become President.”
“And even if she did, it would not be the end of the European project. But it would certainly rock the boat. So I hope that pro-European forces will win in France,” said the Commission chief.
Juncker described the relationship with the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump as “something akin to estrangement,” citing his encouragement of EU countries to follow the U.K.’s decision to leave the bloc.
“The fact that the American president welcomes the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU and is encouraging other countries to follow suit is an unprecedented phenomenon. We need to engage in intensive dialogue,” he said, adding that Brussels should take the “protectionist tenor” of Trump administration seriously.
As for the Brexit negotiations, the Commission has “everything prepared down to the last detail,” said Juncker, warning that “the U.K. will need to prepare itself to be treated as a third country. There will be no half-membership or cherry picking. In Europe, the choice is to eat what’s on the table or not come to the table at all.”
Last week’s Dutch election victory for Prime Minister Mark Rutte against the anti-Islam and Euroskeptic candidate Geert Wilders was a “good signal for the elections in France and Germany” which are due in April/May and September respectively, said Juncker.
But the Commission chief said he made a distinction “between right-wing populism, which I categorically reject, and Euroskepticism,” adding that the arguments of those who are “dissatisfied” with the EU should be taken seriously.
“I call on all convinced Europeans to stand up and get moving. If they just sit back in their armchairs while the populists march on, the latter will always be one step ahead,” he said.
“But it seems to me that there are fewer and fewer full-time Europeans these days and more and more part-time Europeans. The part-time Europeans take what they think is their due from Europe. But they do nothing to make sure that there will be something to share at all in the end,” said Juncker.
Asked by Bild am Sonntag which EU leaders he considered to be “full-time Europeans,” Juncker first named German Chancellor Angela Merkel — “without a shadow of a doubt” — followed by French President François Hollande, Slovenia’s Miro Cerar and Belgium’s Charles Michel.
Juncker appeared keen, however, to avoid the appearance of favoritism in Germany’s coming election, saying both Merkel and the former European Parliament President Martin Schulz “have what it takes to be chancellor.”
Turning to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s furious reaction to German and Dutch authorities restricting the campaigning activities of Turkish officials in their countries, Juncker said it was “totally unacceptable” for Erdoğan to liken their reactions to the Nazis.
Regarding Erdoğan’s comments at a rally Saturday that he would restore capital punishment, Juncker said: “If Turkey were to reintroduce the death penalty, that would be tantamount to breaking off negotiations.”
Click Here: IQOS White
The millions of Turks living in the EU, however, are well-integrated and contribute to Europe’s property, he said, adding: “Not all Turks are little Erdoğans.”
Juncker denied that the agreement with Turkey to send funding in return for help stemming the flow of refugees had exposed the EU to blackmail, saying he was convinced Ankara would not revoke it because “it is not in Turkey’s interests to have smuggling rings and bandits in charge along its coast.” The agreement has led to a 97 percent reduction in arrivals of refugees in Greece from Turkey in the 11 months since it was signed, he said.
Juncker predicted that in 60 years’ time the EU would have more than 30 member states — it currently has 28, but will fall to 27 once Britain leaves. There will be no expansion during his term in office, he said, but neither will there be more departures. “They will all see from the U.K.’s example that leaving the EU is a bad idea,” he said.