Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke about the migration crisis, one of the defining events for his tenure, in an interview to New Europe’s Editor Alexandros Koronakis.
As the leader of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker guided the institution through one of the largest recent crises in Europe: massive and intense migration. Despite the critical media coverage and hostility, Juncker insisted the European Commission handled the migration as well as it could have. “I don’t have a feeling that the Commission as an institution failed in its obligations. We made all the proposals [complete reforms of EU common asylum laws] in 2015 already,” Juncker stated. The first-ever coordinated resettlement of refugees was successful. Since 2015, the EU granted safe passage to over 50,000 refugees. However, relocation with the European Union became a controversial issue. Still, the EU did resettle all refugees who were actually eligible, after migrations arrivals dropped to 35,000 refugees.
Juncker says that criticism aimed at the European Commission over the imposition of mandatory relocation quotas on member states is unfounded. The most controversial decisions were made by the Council and the member states themselves. “We have a decision by the Council of Ministers adopting the proposals of the Commission put forward… They [Poland, Hungary] are acting against the decisions of the Council of Ministers, and not against the proposal of the Commission because these proposals were accepted by the Council,” Juncker said. On the accusation that the Commission attempted to dictate country decisions, President Juncker says this is untrue. “ It was the Council of Ministers. “We have a decision by the Council of Ministers adopting the proposals the Commission put forward,” Juncker said.