Tuesday

17th Jul 2018

Attacks mount against 'master of lies' Juncker

  • 'Can this man be trusted?', the German-language press are asking (Photo: Council of European Union)

Criticism is mounting against eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker for lying about a secret meeting last Friday of select EU finance ministers in his native Luxembourg to discuss the worsening Greek debt situation.

On Monday (9 May) a series of furious attacks on the chair of the group of EU states that use the single currency appeared in the German-language press, arguing that Juncker can no longer be trusted.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

Ministers and their spokespeople across the eurozone had first denied or refused to comment on a report which appeared in Spiegel Online revealing that a secret meeting of senior EU officials was being held in a Luxembourg castle to consider a Greek exit from the euro.

The same officials later confirmed that the meeting took place, but that Greece returning to the drachma was never on the table. Juncker it appeared had invited finance ministers from France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, ostensibly under the aegis of the EU members of the G20 (although the UK, a G20 member, was absent), along with Greece, the European Central Bank and Olli Rehn, the EU economy commissioner.

Juncker's spokesman, Guy Schuller, was quoted by Reuters as saying: "I totally deny that there is a meeting, these reports are totally wrong."

The development comes after the Luxembourgish prime minister admitted the week before during a Brussels conference on economic governance that over the course of his career, despite his Catholic upbringing, he often "had to lie" in order not to feed rumours and that economic policy was too important to be discussed in public. "I am for secret, dark debates," he quipped, according to an EUobserver report.

German press agency DAPD has quoted him as saying: "When the going gets tough, you have to lie."

On Monday, Austrian daily Der Standard attacked the Luxembourg prime minister as a "master of lies", also complaining that Juncker had invited the larger EU states but not the likes of Austria or Finland, describing the move as "a fatal error that multiplies the scepticism of the citizens."

"Juncker and his Round Table should be reminded that it was the small states in May 2010 that made the rescue package for Greece possible in the end."

Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung meanwhile complained that no one can believe what EU leaders, but particularly Juncker, say regarding the stability of the eurozone any more.

"Seldom have we seen politicians acting as irresponsibly as they did on Friday evening. In Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome and Luxembourg, officials were silent, deceptive or just plain lied," the paper thundered.

"Within a matter of hours, the governments of the euro countries managed to fritter away the last remaining trust the people of Europe still have in the bailout action."

"Who in the future is supposed to believe that Greece isn't interested in leaving the euro zone if Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the Euro Group, is taking the lead on the deception?"

A frustrated European diplomat told EUobserver the handling of the meeting was "amateur", adding: "What happened is silly. How is anyone going to trust what we say now?"

Meanwhile, Greek authorities are going after Spiegel Online for reporting "false news" about Greece considering withdrawal from the euro.

The Greek prosecutor has contacted German counterparts, requesting assistance in tracking down those responsible at Spiegel Online for the initial report.

On Wednesday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is to visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the Greek conundrum and EU Council President Herman van Rompuy will also be dropping in on the German leader to consider the next steps in the crisis.

The meetings will not take place in secret in a Luxembourg castle, but in Berlin.

Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that Chancellor Merkel was to travel to Brussels. In fact, the two EU presidents are to travel to Berlin.

Finnish PM could replace Juncker as Eurogroup chief

Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has invited select EU leaders and ministers to a "winter retreat" in Finland in a potential lobbying opportunity for the top job in the eurozone.

MEPs side with Fry over McCartney on copyright

The European Parliament decided to take more time studying proposed changes to the EU's copyright regime, amidst fears of 'upload filters' - and accusations of scaremongering.

Mr Juncker goes to Washington

European Commission president will meet US president Donald Trump before the end of July to try to "de-dramatise" the tense trade relations.

EU's €23bn for high-speed rail had 'low added value'

Court of Auditors says in critical report that Europe does not have a high-speed rail 'network', "only a patchwork of national high-speed lines, planned and built by the member states in isolation".

News in Brief

  1. VW owners to get diesel software update free until 2020
  2. Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, Commission says
  3. EU sees no China free-trade talks
  4. Italy accepts migrant boat after help promises
  5. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  6. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  7. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  8. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU and China agree on words, not yet on action
  2. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  3. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  4. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  5. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  6. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism
  7. Stage set for Trump-Putin finale
  8. Trump scuppers trade deal with UK under May's Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us