Outgoing Eurocrat Juncker’s Parting Shot: ‘Brexit a Waste of Time and Energy’

Brexit campaigner and Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage (L) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker react during a debate on the last EU summit and Brexit at the European Parliament on October 22, 2019, in Strasbourg, eastern France. - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the EU …
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Top Eurocrat Jean-Claude Juncker has articulated an evidently growing feeling within the European Union that the protracted Brexit process has robbed the bloc of the chance to advance its plans for years, calling the process “a waste of time, and a waste of energy.”

The comments from the outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker came during a speech Tuesday morning to the European Parliament, his last such address before he stands down at the end of the month. The characterful President will be replaced by controversial Merkel protege Ursula von der Leyen, a clear indication of the direction of travel for the European Union.

Reflecting on his time as President, Juncker recognised Brexit as one of the defining features of pan-European politics over the past five years, remarking: “In truth, it has pained me to spend so much of this mandate dealing with Brexit, when I have thought of nothing less of how this union could od better for its citizens. A waste of time, and a waste of energy.”

Despite the pessimistic outlook, the Luxembourger continued that the Commission — led by his colleague President Donald Tusk — had worked “tirelessly” to negotiate deals with the United Kingdom to govern Brexit. He said: “We now have a new agreement which again creates the legal certainty for an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.”

While the aftermath of the Brexit vote has been perceived to have sucked all oxygen out of the European Union’s high-level meetings for the past three and a half years, the drain on Juncker’s governing time began before that. Prior to the 2016 referendum, then-British Prime Minister David Cameron attempted renegotiation of the country’s relationship with the EU, hoping that by showing the British people the European Union could be reformed from the inside and was hence worth remaining in.

Negotiated from summer 2015 until February 2016, the package of reforms were generally much less than had been hoped would be possible, and the British people when polled were found to be of the view that the renegotiation had failed.

That the ongoing Brexit process continues to be a drag on the European Union’s hopes an aspirations, clearly felt by Mr Juncker, is something also felt by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has repeatedly expressed his frustration that discussions have prevented him imposing his vision for a new Europe. Macron has been the key driving force behind attempting to finish Brexit sooner rather than later, insisting he didn’t want the next EU mandate to be “polluted” by Brexit as Jean-Claude Juncker today admitted this now ending one had been.

Speaking in June, Macron said the rapidly approaching October 31st Brexit date was the “final, final deadline” and that there would be no extensions, comments he repeated last week when he said there would be no extension if the United Kingdom failed to ratify the new deal.

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