Juncker: Britain's departure from the EU is a 'tragic moment for Europe'

Juncker: Britain's departure from the EU is a 'tragic moment for Europe'
Credit: Belga

Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the UK leaving the EU on the 31st of October is a “tragic moment for Europe.” 

An interview with Juncker was published in Spanish newspaper El Pais on Sunday. 

Juncker will leave his position on the 31st of October. He said Brexit “goes against the course of history and the desire of the great British politician Winston Churchill, who wanted a United States of Europe.” 

“I think we still have time to reach an agreement with the UK,” Juncker said. He said his latest meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which took place in Luxemburg on Monday, was “constructive and positive in parts.” 

“I don’t agree with those who say Johnson is playing games with us and himself. I think he is trying to find an agreement that works for both the European and British Parliaments,” he added. 

Juncker admitted he had one regret during Sunday’s interview: that the Commission decided not to intervene in 2016, when Britain held a referendum to decide whether to stay in the EU. Nearly 52% of the voters opted to Leave. 

Juncker said the pre-referendum campaign was “a campaign of lies and fake news.” He said “we at the Commission decided not to intervene at David Cameron’s (British PM from 2010 to 2016) request. That was a big mistake.” 

Juncker refused to talk about the Catalonian crisis and the ongoing court cases in Spain. The Supreme Court is due to sentence the chief Independentists for their role in the attempted secession in 2017. 

But Juncker did say “I don’t agree with stupid nationalism, it doesn’t get you anywhere.” 

“This is not a criticism of Catalonia, which I respect as it is today.” Left and right-wing Independentists are currently in power in the north-eastern Spanish region, which has 7.6 million inhabitants. 

“Europe is a small continent which is losing economic and demographic power,” Juncker said. “This is not the moment to become nationalist, but the time to unite people.” 


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