Whatever international media may say about him, Jean-Claude Juncker is still president of the European Commission, and as such a force to be reckoned with. Thus his remarks to RTP that Portugal should have “an increasing role in the heart of Europe” have reaffirmed the halo of success that has started shining over almost every aspect the country’s reputation.
“The behaviour and sacrifices of the Portuguese people” are things that deserve recognition by other Europeans, he said, stressing that the country “is on a good path” with a level of deficit recovery that is “one of the most impressive” in all Europe.
“I see Portugal, its economy, its industry and everything that makes it, as something that should have a central place in Europe”, he said, before moving on to the devastating fires in which he admitted that Europe’s action of its mechanism of solidarity was sorely lacking.
The fires began on a Sunday, yet the first European plane arrived to ‘help’ only on Wednesday.
“This is not the Europe I dream of”, he told RTP.
It was an interview that touched on the problems of Catalonia, Brexit, Europe in general – a continent he described as the “most insignificant” of world continents.
“In terms of economic weight, Europe is in decline. In demographic terms, we no longer represent what Europe represented at the start of the 20th century”, and when it comes to influence in the wider world, “Europe has lost its clout”.
Positive though the discussion was with regards to Portugal, it ended on a note of tragedy: Juncker’s opinion of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union “without ever once” having given its citizens the benefit of informed debate on what ‘exit’ would actually mean.