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Jean-Claude Juncker on the high EU seas

18 9 0
14.09.2017

Jean-Claude Juncker drew his speech's rhetorical inspiration from seafarer's language: Europe, once again, has wind in its sails; it should weigh anchor and set sail toward a shared future. That was his appeal. And since the European Commission president likes to wear his heart on his sleeve, he also referred to his years of experience – some of it painful – as a trained European. He called for unity and for more EU integration.

A single-speed Europe?

But that does not fit the two-speed idea of Europe that Paris and Berlin are planning. More than anyone, French President Emmanuel Macron wants to transform the eurozone into the core of a more closely integrated group of member states.

Read more: Alfred Grosser: France, Germany have similar problems

It is the old idea of a European avant-garde. In contrast, the EU Commission president wants all EU members to be included in the eurozone, even those that are struggling economically. They will simply have to be helped along.

DW's Barbara Wesel

A good example of the fatal consequences of forcing a weaker country into the tight corset of European economic discipline is Greece. Thus, Juncker's plan in this regard will likely sink like a rock. In this case it would seem that a well-intentioned idea is quite the opposite of a good one.

The concept of a single-speed Europe as the founding fathers envisioned it has proven impractical. It has ultimately led to too much institutional standstill due to the ever expanding number of member states – that ship set sail in the opposite direction long ago.

Olive branch for Eastern Europe

On the other hand, Jean-Claude Juncker elegantly navigated his way around the EU's current crisis with the Visegrad countries. He invited eastern European countries to join the Schengen zone and to embrace the euro, but he avoided chiding Poland and Hungary for their disrespect for the rule of law.

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