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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker lashed out at “stupid nationalists” on the eve of European elections in which eurosceptic politicians are expected to make gains in the European Parliament.
In an interview with CNN, the outgoing president said he was only too aware of the threat that nationalist politicians pose to European solidarity, which Juncker called the “main objective of the EU.”
Some polls project that populists may become the most powerful group in the parliament following this week’s elections in all 28 EU nations, resulting in a lasting impact on the future of the bloc and the continent at large.
“These populist, nationalists, stupid nationalists, they are in love with their own countries”, Juncker told CNN in his Brussels office.
“They don’t like those coming from far away, I like those coming from far away… we have to act in solidarity with those who are in a worse situation than we are in”, he said.
When asked why he thought that anti-EU forces were more successful in mobilising their base than pro-Europeans, Juncker replied: “It’s always easier to mobilise negative forces than to mobilise positive forces.”
Juncker said he saw a glimmer of hope in what has happened since Britain’s decision to leave the EU, back in 2016.
“Since Brexit… the number of those in favour of the European Union is increasing because people are watching what is happening and they are seeing that leaving the European Union is not as easy as they were told.”
When euroskeptics take up their seats in the European Parliament in the coming months, Juncker hopes that his vision for a Europe of values becomes attractive once again to a younger generation of voters.
When asked what the greatest thing about the EU was, he replied simply: “One word, peace. And when it comes to peace we have to do it together with the US.”