15:25 GMT28 October 2020
Listen Live
    Get short URL

    EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, who is nearing the end of his term, has been on the receiving end of hard-hitting criticism over the years, and is blamed for many of the bloc’s woes.

    As he nears the end of his term in office, EU President Jean Claude Juncker gave a wide-ranging interview for Bild magazine, where he complained again that unlike US President Donald Trump he has no private jet, deplored the “ridiculous” fact that women are grossly outnumbered by men in top levels of European politics, and voiced a whimsical hope that 20 years from now, people would have greater “respect” for the EU.

    Juncker took time to specifically dwell on his far-from enviable living conditions in the interview, as he revealed he was confined to a tiny hotel room which meant he was forced to conduct meetings at other leaders' residences because, he said, “I can’t talk to official visitors sitting on my bed.”

    ​Bild magazine quotes the EU Chief as saying:

    “The Commission President doesn’t have a residence. I have been living in a hotel apartment measuring 50 square metres for 3,250 euro [per month]. Donald Tusk doesn’t have a residence either, by the way.”

    He was quick to add: “The NATO Secretary-General, on the other hand, lives in a stately home, and invites us there sometimes when we need a rest. All the ambassadors have residences too — I know many of them.”

    Juncker bemoaned his lack of a private plane, saying: “When I was talking to Donald Trump, I was constantly looking at my watch so that I wouldn’t miss my flight home.”
    “Trump kept saying, ‘Your plane can wait!’, he didn’t realise that I didn’t have my own aeroplane.”

    This reference to a lack of a private jet is not Juncker’s first, as in 2014, while campaigning for the position of President of the European Commission, he had tweeted: “The Americans have Air Force One. I don't. But I am still campaigning all over Europe! #withJuncker”

    The EU boss sparked fury when it was revealed in 2017 that he'd chartered a £24,000 private jet to Rome with a delegation of nine.

    ​In his interview for Bild, Jean-Claude Juncker also touched on Commissioners' gender – only nine of the 28 Commissioners are women — and they receive pensions.

    “'When I put my Commission together five years ago, the Member States only proposed one woman. I made sure that at least nine women had posts out of the twenty-eight.”

    “I agree, this situation is ridiculous, there are still too few women. That applies to all the other top jobs in the EU.”

    “Sixty percent of all graduates are women, so the minimum is that half the Commissioners should be female.”

    Juncker implied he was for ending or at least tempering golden goodbyes, explaining that five Commissioners have been elected MEPs, so member states have the right to propose replacement Commissioners for the remaining five months of the Commission's term.

    “This would cost the European taxpayer a million euro per Commissioner, for relocation, staff and the lifelong pension which every Commissioner gets, no matter how long he or she has been in office, because the Member States have decided that this is so. I’m trying to stop this,” said Juncker.

    On the issue of personal relationships within his business circle, the Commission President singled out that with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    Juncker said he was saddened by the fact that Merkel will not be seeking re-election at the end of her term in 2021, and bemoaned the fact she would be “taken” from him.

    “She is a lovable work of art, and I feel sad when a work of art is taken from me. But that won’t happen any time soon,” Juncker said.

    When Brexit came up in the interview, Juncker brushed off any blame, saying: “It’s too easy to blame the Commission President for everything. The UK government is responsible for Brexit.”

    On the plight of the European Union, he said he hoped that 20 years from now, there would be more integration between the peoples of Europe and warmer sentiments towards the EU.

    Looking to the future, Jean-Claude Juncker told Bild he would like for people to show more respect towards the EU instead of lambasting it.

    “After all, we have a common European destiny,” concluded Juncker.


    Greece Faked Its Way Into Eurozone, EC President Juncker Says
    'I'm Missing Her,' Juncker Says as EU Leaders Meet Without Theresa May
    EU's Juncker Roasts Polish State TV for Comparing Tusk to Stalin and Hitler
    Jean-Claude Juncker: 'Loss of Libido' Root Cause of EU Plight
    private jet, Europe, EU, Brexit, Air Force One, eu commission, EU, Angela Merkel, Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, EU
    Community standardsDiscussion