Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said that if Greece left the single currency area, the “Anglo-Saxon world” would try everything to break it up.
Speaking at the KUL, the Catholic University of Leuven on Monday (4 May) on the occasion of the launch of the Wilfred Martens Fund, Juncker made it clear that a ‘Grexit’ was not an option, because it would be an existential threat to the 19-member economic and monetary union.
Juncker, who chose French to deliver his 40-minute speech at the Flemish university, said:
“The world wants to know which way we are going. We should make sure that everyone understands that the economic and monetary union is irreversible, that the euro is a currency that is here to stay, which is not going to be abolished or suspended. “
Juncker added that he had discussed the issue the same day with former Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who was also present at the event.
“Grexit is not an option. If Greece would accept it, if the others would accept it, that the country would exit the zone of security and prosperity constituted by the eurozone, we would be exposed to huge danger, because the Anglo-Saxon world would do everything to try to decompose, at a regular rhythm, by (the) sale, apartment by apartment, of the eurozone,” he said.
Later, in the Q&A session, Juncker returned to the issue, speaking this time in English.
“We have to know that Greece was misbehaving in the past, that the government of Mr. Samaras was doing the right things, that those who were contesting these right things won the elections. Now they are confronted with their election promises, and we have to deal with that,” he said, referring of the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras.
“My concern is not the Greek government. My concern is the Greek people. We don’t have the right to deal with the Greek people as if they were the neglected part of Europe. The Greek people have great dignity. This is a great nation, although being from time to time a weak state, and we have to show solidarity with the Greeks. And the [present] Greek government has to know that at the level of the eurozone, we have to deal with 19 democracies, not only with one, not only with Greek democracy,” he said.
One of the questions referred to the UK, and the push of the present government to renegotiate its status in the EU.
“I want a fair deal with Britain, but Britain is not in a situation to impose its exclusive agenda to all the other member states of Europe”, Juncker said.
“I’m a strong defender of the freedom of movement of workers”, he continued, alluding to the rhetoric against workers from the Eastern European countries in the UK . He added:
“This is a basic principle of the EU laid down in the Treaty of Rome. So the British are kindly invited to present a list of their requests, we’ll take this under exam, with friendly attention, and then we will see. I don’t want Britain to leave the EU, but I don’t want the EU to follow an exclusive British commandership.”