European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted he is “basically not a fan of referendums”, and ruled out further EU-UK negotiations, the day before Britons vote on whether to remain in or leave the bloc.
He poured cold water on UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments that a Remain vote would lead to further negotiations on livewire issues such as free movement.
“The British policy makers and British voters have to know that there will not be any kind of renegotiation,” Juncker told reporters in Brussels.
“We have concluded a deal with the prime minister, he got the maximum he could receive, we gave the maximum we could give,” he said, referring to the EU reform deal struck by Cameron last February.
“So there will be no kind of renegotiation, nor on the agreement we found in February, nor as far as any kind of treaty negotiations are concerned. Out is out.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday night (19 February) said he would campaign for Britain to stay in a reformed EU, after securing promises of treaty change and compromising on his demands over benefits for EU migrants and their children.
In an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, published today (22 June) Juncker said voters could easily be misled by “sideshows” during a plebiscite.
Juncker, who was burnt by the overwhelming “Oxi” vote in the Greek referendum on the country’s bailout, added, “You always get the sweats when someone dares to ask the people for its opinion.”
Junker also confessed that the Commission had not got more involved in the Brexit debate, for fear of incensing the British, who might see it as meddling.
While the former Luxembourg Prime Minister gave an interview on Brexit to FAZ, he has not spoken to any British media outlet, including the BBC.
He told FAZ, “I have hardly expressed my opinion on the Brexit debate because I have the impression it could be seen as a provocation, if the Commission intervenes in the British referendum campaign.”
Asked about the interview at the Commission’s midday briefing, Chief Spokesman Margaritis Schinas said, “The Commission was not and is not part of the campaign. This is an issue for the British people and the British people alone.”
Juncker won’t step down
Schinas was forced to deny that Juncker would step down “because of health reasons” if Britons vote to leave the EU. “The answer is no,” he said.
Questions over Juncker’s health have dogged his presidency, particularly after the marathon talks to keep Greece in the euro.
Over the last fortnight Juncker has stepped up his rhetoric. Yesterday in Athens, he described Brexit as “an act of self-harm”.
But he has also earlier insisted that Brexit would not be the death of the EU.
When news of Juncker’s ruling out of further negotiations broke in Britain, Leave campaigner Boris Johnson said, “The conceit of the man!”.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker today (16 July) said that the European Union would survive a Brexit – the UK voting to leave the bloc in the referendum to be held in one week’s time.
The United Kingdom on Thursday (23 June) voted to leave the European Union, in a result that is likely to rock the 28-country bloc. Follow EurActiv's live feed for all the latest developments, as they happen.
- 23 June: Referendum
Rival sides in Britain's referendum on European Union membership clashed in a passionate debate to the roars of an audience of six thousand in a London concert arena yesterday (21 June).