EU President: Europe Must Kill Populism Before EuroParl Elections Next Year

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker rings the bell as he opens the college of commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, May 23, 2018.
AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaer

The establishment in Europe must unite to stop “rampant populism” ahead of European Union (EU) Parliament elections next year, Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

The Commission President, who earlier this month defied protest to speak at a lavish ceremony celebrating the “legacy” of  Communist Manifesto author Karl Marx, said that populist movements can be stopped as long as politicians stand up to “clearly and explicitly nail their [pro-EU] colours to the mast”.

“In a year’s time European citizens would have voted in a new European Parliament,” he told MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday, describing uncertainty over the political shape it will take as “a source of concern” for Eurocrats in Brussels.

“Let’s stand up against the rampant populism that we are seeing in all countries including mine, but Luxembourg people are by and large, wise,” Juncker said, before adding: “So it is not a large movement but it is a containable movement.”

Speaking at a plenary debate on the future of Europe, the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg also called for Brussels to end unanimity over foreign policy and bring in qualified majority voting — the system which Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage has pointed out “effectively means that the big countries can outvote the smaller Eastern European states”.

“I want governments to agree on a perfectly straightforward principle. On foreign policy, if we want to be efficient … Europe must from here and onwards have a qualified majority. We can’t lead the world if we [are] hobbled by unanimity,” he said.

Veteran Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) parliamentary group leader Guy Verhofstadt also spoke at the session, claiming: “Democracy is important just because of Europe. When there was no European Union there was utter desperation in Europe, fascism in Europe between the two World Wars.

“It is since we have had the European Union that we have guaranteed democracy in the European Union, that is what we have achieved,” he claimed.

However, at the beginning of the year, Verhofstadt — who is also the European Parliament’s Brexit spokesman — said there was “no place” in the EU for nations whose citizens democratically elect right-wing governments which are resisting demands to follow Western Europe down the path of escalating liberalism and multiculturalism.

Then, in a piece entitled ‘The EU must stop funding illiberalism’, Verhofstadt in April called for Brussels to cut off funding to conservative governments like those in Hungary and Poland, and redirect the funds to leftist universities and NGOs in those nations.

“This approach would demonstrate to the citizens of wayward countries that the EU does not want to punish them for their governments’ behaviour,” he said, writing in arch-globalist media organ Project Syndicate.

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