Radio 100,7 interview with Jean-Claude Juncker on March 24, 2016 / Radio 100,7

The EU member states did not stick to their commitments on collaborating closer in security issues, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview with the Euranet Plus member from Luxembourg, Radio 100,7. Juncker admitted Brussels had little power to make them change their policies.

The assessment that the EU countries should collaborate closer in the exchange of security-related data has been made on several occasions, but for sure after both terrorist attacks that hit Paris last year.

“The cooperation between the intelligence services in Europe is not satisfactory,” Juncker reiterated shortly before the EU’s interior ministers had gathered in Brussels to discuss the consequences of the bomb attacks at the Brussels Zaventem Airport and the metro station Maelbeek.

“Some things could have been avoided if national authorities had collaborated more closely and trusted each other more,” Juncker told Radio 100,7.

The Luxembourger also admitted that security policies “had not been the first issue of our agenda of attention.” (audio in Luxembourgish)

“I think there are several member states or rather stratifications in member states that did not take the problem of terrorism seriously because they have not yet been confronted with terrorism before,” Juncker said.

“The European Union itself – and I am speaking for the European Commission – has made several propositions, wanted to newly regulate the handling of weapons, the exchange of passenger data, the protection of the external borders … these are propositions the Commission has made, but that the member states have not accepted so far.”

Legal proposals of the Commission on arms trafficking, on border management and on intensifying the exchange of information should finally be adopted and implemented, Juncker said. (audio in Luxembourgish)

“Propositions of that kind would contribute to the establishment of a security union, in addition to the economic and monetary union, the energy union and the digital union. As a matter of fact, when I think about the important questions, I come to the conclusion that the first human right is eventually the right to safety. It cannot be that people in Europe don’t feel safe any more,” Juncker said.

Brussels’ limited power

Yet Juncker knows that yet another call from Brussels will not really change the practices of the EU member states.

Since intelligence is not in the field of competence of the Commission, Brussels has little power in influencing EU member states on their motivation to exchange information, the Luxembourgish Commission President admitted.

It will be up to member states to enhance cooperation – something they had promised on several occasions.

In Juncker’s view another promise of commitment by the EU interior ministers without action will contribute to the fact that people are “getting tired of Europe.”

However, after the Brussels attacks, the EU should still avoid blind activism and react calmly and carefully, Juncker pointed out. (audio in Luxembourgish)

“I do not want to believe that terrorism is becoming a permanent aspect of everyday life in Europe. I want to emphasize that more people fell victim to terrorism during the seventies and eighties than today – this tends to be forgotten,” Juncker said.

“Anyway, I am, in all matters and hence in this, too, against blind activism to only give the people the impression that something is done. And to then make nonsense, that does not work. I am in favour of doing what needs to be done in an intelligent, careful and calm way.”

Minute of silence on March 34, 2016, held at Belgian Parliament for victims of the terror attacks / ec.europa.eu

Minute of silence at Belgian Parliament

According to Juncker, the EU must learn “to discover the positive aspects of the solidarity approach in difficult moments. Many member states are not ready to do so and this also explains the weak European reaction to the migration crisis,” Juncker said.

The Commission president added that given this attitude of some member states, his hopes on successful reforms of the Dublin regulation that rules the responsibilities of member states on asylum applications were “restrained”.

  • Author: Danièle Weber, Euranet Plus News Agency
  • Further image credits: (middle 1) Radio 100,7 interview with Jean-Claude Juncker on March 24, 2016 / Radio 100,7 | (middle 2) Minute of silence on March 34, 2016, held at Belgian Parliament for victims of the terror attacks / ec.europa.eu

Listen to whole interview with Jean-Claude Juncker (in Luxembourgish by Radio 100,7)

An der Suite vun den Attentater zu Bréissel plaidéiert den EU-Kommissiounspresident fir eng “Unioun vun der Sécherheet”. Mat Aktionismus hätt dat näischt ze dinn. De Jean-Claude Juncker hofft op méi Solidaritéit bannent der EU. [Read more …. ]

Euranet Plus News Agency viewing tip

After the Paris attacks in November, we live in a changed era. It is no longer the sound of artillery fire in the distance, but a sense that the enemy is within our schools, or workplaces, our shopping centres, our theatres. But is our sense of suspicion leading to an overreaction which risks the primary values of our Western society? Is our response to the Paris attacks, and lockdown in Brussels, balanced, careful and proportionate?