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EU: Juncker (Commission) to MEPs, “fight against nationalism”. End-of-term assessment as Commission president

(Strasbourg) “Fight against stupid and limited nationalists”. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, concluded in this way his – probably – last speech at the European Parliament, that is holding its plenary session in Strasbourg this week. If the confirmation process for the new Commission headed by Ursula von der Leyen goes ahead as planned, President Juncker will leave his office in Brussels on 30 November. Taking stock of his 2014-2019 term in office as president of the Commission, he listed the figures, the achievements but also the “shortcomings” of his College. He recalled the three priorities of his agenda “Growth, employment and investment” when he took the helm of the Commission during the financial crisis. Since then, the European economy has painstakingly recovered; unemployment has fallen to an historic low in many – although not all – countries: the “Juncker Investment Plan mobilised 142 billion and created millions of jobs”, he said. “We made the Stability Pact more flexible and supported Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, when required”, despite the opposition of “many Member States”. He said about Greece: “We restored dignity to that country”, and alleviated the “suffering of its people”. He explained: “There were attempts to stop the Commission from taking action” to support Athens “and I remember receiving phone calls from several leaders, telling me: mind your business. But we acted according to the treaties, which stipulate that the Commission is the guardian of the general interests. And saving the eurozone is a common interest”.

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