Tuesday

28th Jan 2020

Juncker to critics: 'I'm not tired or sick'

  • Juncker in the European Parliament on Tuesday: "I am what I am. To my last breath I will fight for a united Europe" (Photo: European Parliament)

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker added an unexpectedly personal note to his address to the EU parliament on Tuesday (28 June).

"I'm not tired and I'm not sick as newspapers write in Germany. I am what I am. To my last breath, I will fight for a united Europe," he said, earning applause.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Juncker had come under fire in recent weeks, in press articles as well as from politicians and diplomats in different countries, over his work style, leadership qualities, his smoking and drinking habits and his general comportment.

He has also faced calls for his resignation over the Brexit fiasco and his handling of the fallout of the UK vote.

Estonian president Toomas Ilves said Juncker’s behaviour had been “abominable”.

Czech foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek said he was not "the right man for the job”.

Polish ruling party chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski said “the whole European Commission in its current composition” should take responsibility for the UK exit.

Juncker’s decision to speak publicly about his own health amounted to a rebuttal of speculation that he would leave office before his mandate ended in 2019.

"Juncker will not resign," a senior source from one EU state told a group of journalists in Brussels the same day.

"Attacks come from the usual media and from only a few people with grudges against the commission, it's not a trend," a commission official told EUobserver.

The critics are not easily stopped however.

Some member states, particularly in eastern Europe, are still angered by how the commission and its chief have handled the migration crisis, particularly by pressing for mandatory quotas to distribute refugees across the continent.

Juncker and his commission had spearheaded German-inspired policies during the crisis.

But for some EU states, the Berlin-Brussels axis should not become a permanent fixture.

“The commission will have to change, quit the habits that it has developed over the last two years, like running ahead, no matter what, without consulting the member states," an EU diplomat said.

“There are plenty of examples of the commission just 'not getting it’, from the migration crisis on, the list is very long," he added.

Another member state source said Juncker’s commission is begging to be seen as “part of the problem” also in Berlin.

Even inside the commission, critics can be heard.

"His reaction to the outcome of the [UK] referendum [on Friday] was dramatic," a source told EUobserver.

"He talked three hours after [EU Council president Donald] Tusk, he was not in his best shape, he read a statement and answered only two questions before running off."

Despite the criticism, there is no ploy afoot to unseat the Luxembourgish politician.

"I don’t have the feeling that there is any kind of movement in the [EU] Council against Juncker," an EU diplomat said.

He added that Juncker’s departure could trigger an EU institutional crisis on top of the bloc’s other problems.

Another source said the commission could not be decapitated at a time when serious negotiations with the UK were about to get under way.

“Nobody can push him out, unless there was serious ground," the commission official said.

EU urges UK to submit Brexit papers

Cameron does not want to apply for Brexit, but let his successor do it. That could take until October. “Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty," EU leaders have said.

Juncker dismisses criticism of Brexit performance

Juncker has said he “doesn’t care” about criticism of his handling of Brexit and told Austria to “stop messing around” on complaints that he bypassed national MPs.

Farage resigns: 'I want my life back'

The prominent vote Leave campaigner and anti-EU MEP already resigned Ukip top job three times before. This time it is final, he said.

News in Brief

  1. UK approves limited role for Huawei in 5G network
  2. Cases of coronavirus in France and Germany
  3. Report: EU court seeks authority on post-Brexit deal
  4. Slovenian PM resigns, calls snap election
  5. Merkel wants EU-Balkan talks agreement by March
  6. Germany: UN sanctions to enforce Libya ceasefire
  7. Irish PM: UK weaker than EU in trade talks
  8. Report warns of challenges under new EU telecom rules

Wilmès becomes first female PM of Belgium

On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. 'Brexit is not going to go away,' warns EU's Barnier
  2. Belgian spy services launch internal clear-up
  3. US and UK in war of words over Huwaei
  4. How Slovakia's far-right might pull off an election victory
  5. Trump's 'plan' for Israel will go against EU values
  6. Salvini down, but not out in Italy regional poll
  7. Brexit finally happens - the UK leaves the EU This WEEK
  8. Why is Netherlands so far behind on renewables?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us