BRUSSELS -- Outgoing EC President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that Europe is weakening demographically, economically and politically, and that it must fight nationalism
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Foto: EPA-EFE/Oliver Hoslet
Jean-Claude Juncker gave his final speech as President of the EU Commission to MEPs on Tuesday in Strasbourg, assessing that the biggest EU success and the greatest achievement is that peace has been maintained in Europe, adding that "Peace is not self-evident and we should be proud that Europe is getting peace".
Making an assessment of his five years in office, Juncker referred to the achievements and failures of the Commission, noting that in 2014 when he took over, Europe was “vulnerable',” beset by several “rifts” and “not particularly popular.”
"What is the future of Europe? We are the smallest continent. Most Europeans do not realize it at all. We are very small, as a European continent," Junker said on Tuesday.
Politics, he adds, must relate to demographics and geography.
"We are facing extinction. At the beginning of the 20th century, Europeans made up 20 percent of the world's population. At the end of this century, there will be only 10 billion people on Earth. Europeans will only make up four percent," he warned.
Europe, he said, will also lose economic power and in a few years no European country will be a member of the Group of Seven Most Developed Countries, according to a statement on the website of the EC President.
Given this irreversible turn of events, one who thinks that the moment has come to talk less in European and more in the national contexts is deceiving.
"Europe means peace. Europe also means strength, given the declining influence we have in the world," Junker said.
He advocates that the Council decide on foreign policy issues by qualified majority.
"I'm leaving the office not sad, not too happy, but in the feeling, honestly endeavored", he said.
Wrapping up his speech, Juncker said: "I've been proud to be a small particle of a larger whole for a long time, and especially for the past five years, more important than us.".
"Take care, Europe. Fight with all your might the stupid nationalism. Long Live Europe", Juncker concluded.
Juncker officially leaves office on November 1, but still manages the business until his successor Ursula von der Leyen will take over the office.