Wednesday

26th Apr 2017

Europe still has 'sleeping war demons'

Former Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker has warned of "sleeping war demons" in Europe and compared the current situation to the year before the outbreak of the first world war, when everybody took peace for granted.

"For my generation the common currency always meant politics of peace. Today I am to some extent saddened to see that too many in Europe are again lost in petty national thought processes," the Luxembourg Prime Minister said in an interview with Der Spiegel published on Monday (11 March).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He criticised German politicians who attacked Greece when the crisis started and "left deep wounds" in the southern country.

"I was equally shocked by the banners in Athens protests depicting Chancellor Merkel in a Nazi uniform. Suddenly these resentments reappeared, that we had thought were long gone. The Italian election campaign was also excessively hostile against Germany and therefore anti-European."

"Those who think that the question of war can never be raised in Europe any more may be massively wrong. The demons are not gone, they are only sleeping, as the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo have shown. I am astounded to what extent the European situation today is similar to 100 years ago," Juncker said, in reference to 1913, the year before the first world war broke out.

"There are striking parallels to 1913 in respect to carelessness. Many in Europe back then thought a war could never happen again. The big powers on the continent were economically so closely intertwined that there was a widespread belief they could simply not afford a military conflict. Especially in northern and western Europe there was a deep complacency stemming from the idea that peace was forever granted."

But still Juncker insisted that governments need to stick with unpopular austerity measure that are driving people to the streets in protest.

"You cannot adopt wrong policies just because you're afraid of not being re-elected. Those in government must take responsibility for their country and for Europe as a whole."

No plans for Van Rompuy's job

Already 18 years in office, the longest-serving prime minister of an EU country said he plans to run again in Luxembourg's general elections next year.

"I still want to achieve some things for my country. Experience is not a disadvantage, especially for the prime minister of a small country in a European environment that has become more difficult," Juncker said.

He strongly rejected the idea that he may succeed EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy next year when his mandate ends. "Why would I want to become something that I could have in 2009? This is, frankly, too stupid," Juncker said. He recalled that in 2009 he had a large majority for the job, but that "some" didn't want him back then - in reference to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"You can get it black on white here: I exclude the possibility to become the successor of Herman Van Rompuy."

Merkel wants 'permanent' supervision of Greece, warns of war

Peace should not be taken for granted if the euro fails, German chancellor Merkel told MPs Wednesday ahead of the eurozone summit. Greeks deserve respect for their sacrifice, she said, but their government has to be put under "permanent" supervision.

Analysis

Orban set to face down EU threats

The European Commission and Parliament are to debate Hungary's slide into illiberal democracy. But the bloc continues to think that Hungarian leader Viktor Orban is not a systemic threat.

European right divided on EU values after Brexit

A day after the UK notified its exit from the EU, leaders of the European People's Party expressed a different vision of Europe's identity, with Hungary's Orban calling for a stop to the Muslim "invasion".

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament moves to lift Le Pen's immunity
  2. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's university law
  3. Scots slowly losing appetite for independence - poll
  4. Council of Europe puts Turkey on watch list
  5. EU to put parental leave on political agenda
  6. Israel cancels German meeting over human rights groups
  7. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  8. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. Brexit is about Europe's future as well
  2. Power struggle in Greenland: Three reasons why the EU should care
  3. Nordic and Baltic countries step up digitalisation efforts
  4. European states still top media freedom list
  5. Let’s not put European public health at risk
  6. Threatened Budapest university calls for EU support
  7. Orban set to face down EU threats
  8. Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU