EU Parliament

‘It’s not over!’ Juncker admits Eurosceptic revolution could still rise to DESTROY EU

JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker today admitted that the eurosceptic surge which swept the continent last year is “not over” and could still threaten the very future of the EU project.

Sounding a rare note of realism the EU Commission chief conceded that the performance of defeated French populist Marine Le Pen showed there was still deep underlying dissatisfaction with the bloc.And he warned eurocrats they needed to explain what Brussels does more clearly, saying their preference for technical jargon meant few people properly understood its actions.

Jean-Claude JunckerEbS               Jean-Claude Juncker said populism is not over

He was asked whether eurocrats were concerned by the trend which showed high levels of support amongst the French youth for Ms Le Pen, whilst Mr Macron benefitted overwhelmingly from older voters.

Final figures showed the Front National leader enjoyed her greatest success amongst 35-49 year olds, whilst also securing 34 per cent of 18-24s, though Mr Macron still won over half the votes in both those age groups.
It was put to the EU Commission boss that if the bloc’s officials do not “speak a language which is more understandable for the young” then the EU will inevitably “die” due to lack of support.He replied: “I was very happy when Emmanuel Macron was elected, but the danger of the far extreme right forces still exists – don’t believe that this is over.

“Le Pen got 11 million votes, not only youngsters, and I don’t believe that young people would be more attracted by this simplification the populistic wording of the extreme right, I don’t think that is the case.”

The danger of the far extreme right forces still exists

Jean-Claude Juncker

Mr Juncker said he had sent his team of 28 Commissioners – one from every member state – out across Europe to meet parliamentarians and citizen groups to try and make the EU more accessible to ordinary people.He added: “When it comes to the language of the Commission I’m trying to use a non-technical wording when addressing Europeans.

“It’s dangerous because sometimes you are losing the right direction, but we have to explain ourselves in an understandable way. We are trying to be close to people, we are not prisoners in Brussels.”

Europe survived a string of electoral challenges by populist parties in 2016 and the early part of this year, with many pursuing openly eurosceptic agendas in light of the Brexit vote.

Ms Le Pen was defeated in France and Geert Wilders failed to seize power in the Netherlands, although both still significantly increased their vote shares despite underperforming compared to their polling.

The bloc faces a further major test in Italy, where the anti-euro Five Star Movement is flying high and Silvio Berlusconi’s more moderately eurosceptic Forza Italia is resurgent.And in Sweden too a crunch election is scheduled for later this year with some polls putting the far-right Swedish Democrats, who want a Swexit referendum, top of the pile.

Eurocrats have taken some heart from recent Eurobarometer surveys which have shown an uptick in support for membership of the bloc, but other polling suggests underlying dissatisfaction with Brussels still persists.

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