Destinations Magazine

Charlemagne: The Accidental President

By Stizzard
Charlemagne: The accidental president

IN THE caricature of the British press, Jean-Claude Juncker is a dangerous, drunk, anti-British, European arch-federalist, whose father was conscripted into the Wehrmacht. As European Union leaders prepare to choose Mr Juncker as the next president of the European Commission, blocking Mr Juncker has become a vital national interest for Britain’s David Cameron. The entry of such a man to the Berlaymont, Mr Cameron warns, could hasten Britain’s exit from the EU.In the flesh, however, Mr Juncker is rather hard to dislike. At a time when politicians are bland, Luxembourg’s former prime minister is a dinosaur who loves to drink, smoke, gossip and joke. He can be disarmingly frank, such as when admitting he had to lie to save the euro. It is the nature of the commission to pursue integration. And Mr Juncker’s run-ins with Tony Blair should be kept in perspective: his bad relations with Nicolas Sarkozy scarcely make him anti-French.Mr Juncker’s faults are of a different, less sensational variety. First, for all his experience, the 59-year-old is past his prime and offers little new to regain voters’ trust after the rise of anti-EU parties in May’s elections. He lacks the…


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