European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker admitted in Strasbourg on Wednesday, that Greece was among the toughest issues on his agenda.
Speaking to the press, hours after his annual State of the Union address where he outlined his vision of a post-2019 EU, Juncker said Greece was the greatest challenge of his political career, adding that he was under great pressure to decide Greece’s exit from the euro zone.
Responding to a reporter’s question concerning Greece’s growth outlook, Juncker said he had allocated 35 billion euros to Greece to implement reforms that would favor employment. He underlined that Greece is making efforts and taking the right steps in the direction of stability. Juncker went on to praise the Greek people’s determination and courage particularly the less well off layers of society.
During his address, the Commission chief said the EU was now at its healthiest economic state in over a decade which saw many of its member states suffering from economic blows and that it was preparing to move on from Brexit, set for March 2019. “The wind is back in Europe’s sail,” he said, adding that the EU is well into its fifth year of economic recovery, with unemployment at a nine-year low.
With regard to Turkey, Juncker said Ankara’s attitude “rules out EU membership for Turkey in the foreseeable future”.
“Turkey has been moving away from the European Union in leaps and bounds,” he said, condemning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies and actions including the arrest of journalists and branding EU leaders “fascists and Nazis”.