European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called for the political bloc to scale down its role in the world while maintaining the need for the EU army.
“We are not the masters of the world,” Mr. Juncker said Wednesday at a speech in Berlin claiming that Europe, the smallest continent geographically, needed to look more at demographic challenges and build a common European army, reports Zeit Online.
Although he stated that he wants a scaling down of European force around the world, Mr. Juncker affirmed that the provision of humanitarian relief remains an important role for the political bloc. Claiming that while, globally, 25,000 children die every day from poverty to disease, Juncker said that “Europe is also responsible”.
Mr. Juncker reacted to the historic election of U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump saying that the EU would “make every effort to keep the transatlantic relationship in order”. He claimed that the election of the Republican would not change the policy of the EU toward the U.S.
The U.S. election result also prompted him to express the desire to see more progress on an EU army claiming the EU shouldn’t rely on the U.S. for protection, noting: “We have to do it ourselves.”
Regarding the EU, he said that his vision of the political bloc was one of nation states cooperating with each other rather than a more federalised ‘Unites States of Europe’, warning that otherwise the EU could become a “colourless, lustless, melting pot”.
His recent statement on less federalism contradicts previous statements where he claimed that increased federalism could overcome the rise of populist parties across the continent.
In his speech, Juncker also praised the migrant policies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that the rest of the EU needed to help manage the crisis. The remarks follow on from a speech made earlier in the summer when he declared that “borders are the worst invention ever made”.
The political bloc has seen a rise of populism in Austria, Germany, France, and the Visegrad Group nations who all oppose the redistribution of migrants and are critical of Ms. Merkel’s migrant policies. Earlier in the year, Juncker vowed to use the EU to fight the populist surge saying: “There will be no debate or dialogue with the far-right.”
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