Juncker vows to fight Brussels-bashing before European elections

File photo. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the start of a small summit of leaders to discuss refugee flows along the Western Balkans route, at EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 25 October 2015. [Stephanie Lecocq/EPA/EFE]

EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has vowed to crack down on Brussels-bashing in the run up to next month’s European elections.

“If governments make claims about the EU or the commission, which do not correspond to the truth, then we will respond,” Juncker said in an interview with Germany’s Funke media group.

“I will do this myself in the coming weeks before the election,” he said in Tuesday’s edition (23 April) of newspapers owned by the German media conglomerate.

Juncker, the commission’s president, vigorously warned against manipulation attempts to sway voters – even from EU member states.

“I have already seen attempts to influence the election of the European Parliament by manipulation, which comes from several corners, not only from outside the EU,” he added.

“States within the union are also trying to steer the electorate’s will in a certain direction with fake news.

“The commission is prepared to fight it all off.”

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been a vocal critic of Juncker, holding the EU chief responsible for allowing the United Kingdom to potentially fracture the union once the UK finally sees Brexit through.

“The Hungarian government chief Orbán claims that I am responsible for Brexit – although that is stuck down by evidence to the contrary,” Juncker said in response.

“The Hungarian government also claims that I am to blame for the division of east and west in Europe – although the commission has done everything to fill the gap.”

The Commission recently responded to Orbán’s anti-immigration campaign, possibly because the name of Juncker was involved. Normally the Commission says it doesn’t comment on comments.

Commission responds to Orbán’s latest anti-immigration campaign

The European Commission reacted strongly on Thursday (28 February) to a new anti-immigration campaign launched by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán earlier this week by saying it “distorts the truth” and refuting most of its points.

The Commission did not react during the Brexit referendum campaign, when false claims were being made about the EU and the UK’s relation with the Union.

Elections for the European Parliament will take place from 23 to 26 May across the continent.

Voter turnout at European elections has dropped steadily over the years, hitting a record low of 43% at the last poll in 2014 when eurosceptic parties made major gains.

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