Saturday

18th Aug 2018

Populists blame Juncker for 'same old' ideas

  • Nigel Farage, the top political driver behind the Brexit, said the EU has not learned form the Uk referendum (Photo: European Parliament)

While mainstream parties in the European Parliament voiced support for the European Commission president's big speech, populists blamed Jean-Claude Juncker for calling for more integration.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the conservative European People’s Party - where Juncker hails from - endorsed his plan to double an EU investment fund, but warned against piling up more debt.

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.

... or join as a group

Echoing Juncker’s address, he called for an end to "cheap populism" and urged national EU leaders to take more responsibility for the decisions that they commit to in Brussels.

Weber also suggested the EU should offer every young European an InterRail train ticket for their 18th birthday to help them to discover the continent.

Gianni Pitella, leader of the centre-left S&D group in the EP, was equally happy with Juncker.

Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt blamed populists for "preaching a false sense of security."

"That we can keep problems outside of our territory, walls and fences, I think it's wrong," he said.

Verhofstadt said global challenges can only be met by supranational policies. He gave the example of the financial crisis, where national jurisdictions were ill-equipped to fight fires in multinational lenders.

“We need European solutions, which does not mean abolishing national democracies, but complementing them," he said, adding that the EU could act as a "counterweight" to "uncontrolled globalisation".

But British Tory MEP Syed Kamall, the leader of the ECR group, said that the Brexit-type ”voices of discontent reach far beyond the English channel."

"If they are ignored, don’t be surprised if others follow," he said.

He criticised Juncker's speech for using the old mantra of more Europe in the face of a crisis.

"More, more, more, the more Europe you build, the more citizens feel detached. Dismissing voters’ concerns will drive people to populists," Kamall said, urging cooperation in place of integration.

He also called for an end to the "grand coalition" between the EPP and the S&D in parliament, saying it hampers debate.

Broken taboo

"All I can say is, I'm glad we voted to leave," Nigel Farage from the UK Independence Party, a leading Brexiter, boasted in the EP debate following Juncker's speech.

He said the had EU drawn no lessons from the UK referendum by putting forward the "same recipe" for more integration. He called Juncker’s plan to deepen EU military cooperation a "dangerous idea".

Farage also called Verhofstadt an "EU nationalist" because of his federalist views and said the liberal leader's appointment as the EP’s lead Brexit negotiator was a "declaration of war” against London.

France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Juncker's speech was "like a funeral for the EU".

"You haven’t paid attention to people who want to retake their sovereignty and independence," said Le Pen, who is shaping up to be a leading contender in next year’s presidential election in France.

She said Brexit had broken a taboo.

She said the fact the UK had not suffered a financial “apocalypse”, as predicted by some, despite voting to leave showed that ”you can leave the EU and you can come out better.”

Le Pen also confirmed tat she will be campaigning for a referendum in France on EU membership.

Juncker: EU 'not at risk' of disintegration

The EU Commission chief warned Europe is more divided than ever before, but that Brexit does not mean it is falling apart. He also promised free wifi, an EU army of sorts, and more investments.

Juncker's EU vision to focus on security

Juncker will aim to please southern states by talk of investment, and others by talk of deeper security cooperation in his first big speech since the Brexit vote.

Opinion

Rising to the challenge of 'European Angst'

Liberals and the left need to think up new narratives to counter the rise of populist, eurosceptic and extremist parties. This will be the theme of a conference in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, with EUobserver as a partner.

Stakeholder

Restoring trust and confidence in the European Parliament

Helga Stevens MEP will be standing for the presidency of the European Parliament because she wants to make it a place of open, transparent debate once again, where the voices of all 751 MEPs and the people they represent matter.

News in Brief

  1. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants
  2. Merkel confronts far-right critics: '2015 will not be repeated'
  3. UN: Predictable disembarkation process urgently needed
  4. Slovenia set to select former comedian as prime minister
  5. Polish president to veto election rule helping big parties
  6. MEPs blast UK 'alphabetical approach' on citizens rights
  7. EU hits back over Salvini's blame for bridge collapse
  8. Poll: Sweden's social democrat-led government set to win again

Opinion

While Poles defend courts, Kaczynski hijacks EU elections

While Twitter and EU bubble publications are flooded with photos of protesting crowds and "chains of light" in front of the presidential palace, the Law and Justice-controlled senate has adopted a law restructuring the electoral code for 2019's European elections.

EU Commission skirts Italy sanctions on Roma evictions

The European Commission, as guardian of the treaties, declines to sanction Italy's treatment of the Roma following a forced eviction on Thursday of some 300 from a camp in the outskirts of the Italian capital.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  2. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  3. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life
  4. Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs
  5. Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism
  6. Brexit talks resume as chance of 'no deal' put at 50:50
  7. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  8. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us