Commission president also wants Hungary’s Fidesz to be excluded from the European People’s Party.
Days before the start of the Romanian EU presidency, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed doubts over whether the country will be able to properly lead the Council of the EU during the coming six months.
While Romania was “well prepared” at technical level, “I believe, however, that the government in Bucharest has not yet fully understood what it means to preside over EU countries,” Juncker told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag in an interview.
“Thoughtful acting also requires a willingness to listen to others and the firm will to put one’s own concerns at the end of the queue. With that in mind, I have some doubts,” Juncker said of the Romanian presidency, which starts on January 1 and will run until the end of June.
Romania’s government has been rocked of late by fights within the ruling Social Democratic Party, the resignation of the country’s EU minister, and accusations of backsliding in the fight against corruption.
Juncker said that such internal quarrels were obstructing the country from acting as a “solid entity” in European politics: “A united front at home is needed to promote European unity during the Council presidency.”
The Commission chief also argued in favor of excluding the Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán from its continent-wide political family.
“I have asked the European People’s Party to exclude the Hungarian Fidesz party,” Juncker said, adding: “I think the Christian democratic values on which the EPP is based are no longer compatible with Fidesz’s policy.” However, Juncker said his motion was rejected.
Juncker also warned against following the rhetoric of populists. “I think it is a big mistake that in the traditional party families, the number of those who blindly follow populists is growing,” he said.
He added: “We have to challenge [populists] by making clear that they are only loud, but have no concrete solutions to offer for the challenges of our time.”