New Europe’s Editor Alexandros Koronakis sat down with the head of the European Union’s executive, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, for a full-scale interview, in which President Juncker refuted criticism over the political role of the institution he leads.
Under Juncker, the Commission became a distinctly political Commission, ultimately the most political in the Union’s history. The political nature of the Commission is why the institution managed to stay afloat during crises – a strictly technocratic Commission could have drowned.
Despite the success found by Juncker as the head of a more political Commission, that idea is not very popular with some members. “Most of the Prime Ministers don’t like this self-description of the Commission saying that ‘this is a political Commission,” Juncker said.
For Juncker, that sentiment is surprising. “Because day after day, I have Prime Ministers on the phone asking me to do this and that. And I say ‘these are the rules’.” He says that most Prime ministers complain about these rules. “’But you are a political Commission, you have to do something aside the rules,” Juncker says, imitating the most common phrase said by heads of state. Juncker insists he is not violating any rules as the President. “I’m interpreting the rules in a very political way, without giving in when difficult questions are submitted to my mediation.”