EU will use ‘blocking statute’ to protect its firms from US sanctions for operating in Iran

RT – May 17, 2018

The European Union will activate legislation banning the bloc’s companies from complying with US sanctions against Iran as soon as Friday, according to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The law also does not recognize any court rulings enforcing penalties, which could be potentially introduced by the White House against European corporations doing business in the Islamic Republic.

“As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies,” the Commission president said at a news conference after a meeting of EU leaders. “We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process of to activate the ‘blocking statute’ from 1996. We will do that tomorrow morning at 10:30.”

“We also decided to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies’ investment in Iran. The Commission itself will maintain its cooperation with Iran,” Juncker said.

Europe pushes back against Donald Trump’s proposed steel and aluminum tariffs

DW – February 3, 2018

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday accused US President Donald Trump of exhibiting “war-like behavior,” after Washington announced it would impose punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

“None of this is reasonable, but reason is a sentiment that’s very unevenly distributed in the world,” Juncker told reporters in the German city of Hamburg.

Asked if Europe faced a looming trade war with the US, the president of the EU’s executive body said: “I can’t see how this isn’t part of war-like behavior.”

New German government: What is at stake for the EU

DW – March 3, 2018

The EU Commission is preparing itself for the worst-case scenario, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in discussions last week. He is particularly concerned about the outcome of the Italian parliamentary elections, in particular that Italy may “not get an effective government” due to an unclear majority structure. Juncker even brandished the specter of financial market turmoil, although he later said that he had been misunderstood. He cited the SPD members’ vote as a further reason for his concern: Without the SPD members’ agreement, there will be no grand coalition and therefore no government for Europe’s leading power.

Angela Merkel also appreciates the importance of a future government for Europe. In her most recent government statement on European policy last week, she said, “We need a new start for Europe.” This was even outlined in the coalition agreement. 2018 is the year in which the foundations for the future must be laid. But she is still only making such statements as the acting chancellor. She gave the impression, after the recent EU special summit, that European partners are now expecting German politics to deliver a stable government. This was a clear solicitation to SPD members to agree to forming a coalition with the conservative Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU).

EU eyes enlargement as Jean-Claude Juncker tours Balkans

DW – February 25, 2018

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Sunday kicks off a visit the newest prospective European Union member states. The whirlwind tour through the western Balkan countries of Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo is intended as an encouraging gesture, as Juncker himself put it. A recently agreed EU enlargement strategy even included a timeline for when these states could join the bloc: 2025.

But this target date should not be understood as a guarantee that all western Balkan countries will be admitted to the EU in seven years’ time. Instead, Juncker has said the 2025 timline is intended to encourage the governments of the six potential member states to undertake political reforms, uphold the rule of law, fight corruption, ensure press freedom, stimulate their economies and resolve outstanding conflicts with their neighbors. European Commission staff close to Juncker have said new members will only be admitted if sufficient progress that meets concrete targets is made in these areas, but that that the EU is willing to enlarge the bloc and the six states have a realistic chance of joining.

EC President Juncker defends system against French calls for reform

DW – February 14, 2018

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, European Commission (EC) President Jean-Claude Juncker used strong language to push back on comments made earlier in the day by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

“Some in British political society are against the truth, pretending that I am a stupid, stubborn federalist, that I am in favor of a European super-state,” Juncker told a news conference in Brussels. “I am strictly against a European super-state. We are not the United States of America … This is total nonsense.”

Speaking in London, Johnson had said: “The process of integration has deepened and the corpus of EU law has grown ever vaster and intricate, and ever more powers and competencies have been handed to the EU institutions.”

Juncker also pushed back against proposals from the French president for a new election system for the EU. He said there was not enough time to implement transnational voting lists for European Parliament elections in 2019, a proposal the EU parliament voted down last week.

Why Poland’s Resistance to Second-Class EU Status May Lead to Its Exit From Bloc

Sputnik News – January 17, 2018

The crisis in relations between Poland and the EU seems to have escalated beyond what either side anticipated. On Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was forced to emphasize that the bloc was “not at war with Poland,” notwithstanding Brussels deployment of Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which paves the way to sanctions, up to the deprivation of Poland’s voting rights in the European Council, unless Warsaw mends its ways.

According to Prokudin and Ardaev, to Russian observers, the issue is simple: “Warsaw doesn’t want to be an eternal periphery of the EU or any kind of ‘second-class Europe’.” Polish politicians, on the contrary, “intend to teach European bureaucrats about European and Christian values and, possibly, turn their own country into a new center of power.” But for this to happen, Warsaw would have to take the seemingly unlikely step of making friends with their eastern neighbor, Russia.

Last week, EC president Donald Tusk admitted the possibility of Poland may be the next country to leave the EU, saying that the government in Warsaw may push for “freedom from the burden” of continued membership once EU subsidies run out.

EU heads warm to idea of UK cancelling Brexit

DW – January 16, 2018

As European Union negotiators kicked off preparations for the second round of Brexit talks, European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday urged the UK to rethink its divorce from the bloc.

“Brexit will become a reality, with all its negative consequences, in March next year, unless there is a change of heart among our British friends,” Tusk posted on Twitter. “We here on the continent haven’t had a change of heart. Our hearts are still open to you.”

Unless there is a change of heart among our British friends, will become a reality – with all its negative consequences – March next year. We, here on the continent, haven’t had a change of heart. Our hearts are still open for you.

Picking up on Tusk’s remarks, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, whose executive arm is negotiating the terms of the UK’s departure, said he hoped Brussels’ wishes would be “heard in London.”

Furious protesters BURN EU flags as chaos hits streets of Bulgaria

Chloe Kerr – January 11, 2018

Protests kicked off in Sofia on the same night as Bulgaria takes over its first Presidency of the European Council from January 2018 until June 2018.

EU commissioners are in the city as Bulgaria begins its presidency – and guests at the opening ceremony of the presidency in Sofia, including European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the Council head Donald Tusk.

The Sofia Globe reports 11 protests are being held across the city tonight.

Former president Rossen Plevneliev said: “These protests are not a symbol of future political action, but they are telling us something important – the whole political elite has not done its job over the years.”

DUP scuppers Theresa May’s Brexit deal in fury over Irish border agreement

 – December 4, 2017

Nationalist leaders from across the United Kingdom have voiced their concerns over a possible deal that could see Northern Ireland continue under EU trade laws and regulations.

In a bid to maintain the peace between Northern Ireland and the Republic, leaked reports have suggested that there would be no divergence in law across the island of Ireland, even after Brexit.

But leaders from the devolved regions have all raised concerns with the plans.

In Brussels, Theresa May was forced to exit talks without a signed deal.

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said that there was no deal reached but that it was still possible by the end of the week.

EU Chief Wants to Force Single Currency on All Member States

Vijeta Uniyal – September 13, 2017

In his State of the Union speech, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker laid out his plan to impose a single currency on all the 28 EU member states. Presently only 19 members of the EU have introduced the euro as their official currency. Juncker also called for a more centralized union with its own ‘European finance minister’ and ‘European monetary fund.” He “wants to make the euro compulsory throughout the European Union, including in poorer eastern countries,” the British newspaper Daily Express noted.

The EU Chief’s statements come at a time when several eurozone countries face severe economic and social crises, often a direct result of fiscal imbalances caused from a single European currency. The youth unemployment in Greece, Spain and Italy ranges between 40 and 50 percent. Despite the rescue packages worth more than € 200 billion, the Greek economy is still teetering on the verge of total bankruptcy.

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who was in the EU parliament during the State of the Union speech in his capacity as the British MEP, lambasted Juncker’s proposal to expand the powers of the EU without consulting the people, comparing the EU to the Communist Soviet Union.