Juncker had frequent conversations with Joe Biden when he was Vice-President of Barack Obama Photo: European Union, 2015

Former Luxembourg Prime Minister and President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, was a frequent visitor to the White House and has many memories of exchanges with a number of former US Presidents

On Wednesday at 6 p.m. (CET), Joe Biden turns 46 President of the United States sworn in, an event that is obviously of interest to former Luxembourg Prime Minister Juncker, who has worked with several former US presidents “Two Republicans – Bush and Trump – and two Democrats – Clinton and Obama – and only Obama was younger than me when he took office, “he recalls.” I was the first Luxembourg Prime Minister to make an official visit to the White House in August 1995. Some of my predecessors had of course been there before, but often as part of the rotating presidency of the European Union “

Juncker is no stranger to Biden “We saw each other a lot when he was Obama’s Vice President. He often consulted me on European issues, we met at international summits … He’s a really good guy,” says Juncker

In 2016, Juncker had already encouraged Biden to run for the presidency “We talked about it and I told him he had to run for president. He was Obama’s right-hand man. He told me he didn’t have the power I felt that he was tired He had lost one of his sons to cancer in 2015, which had burdened him considerably. Years earlier he had already lost his first wife and one of his daughters in an accident. A presidential campaign was too much for him at the time Time has come “I’m happy for him,” says Juncker

“As with all American presidents, I also had good relationships with him,” explains Juncker. “He always said that he liked me, no doubt because I was always open and open with him. I didn’t hide behind the others but I told him what the Commission wanted. At that time he began to understand that Europe existed because it had a unified voice, that of the President of the Commission. When the Member States acted selfishly, he watched them quarrel and took advantage of the contradictions that arose between them As I expressed myself, through my function and through necessity, always in the same way I have often said, “Donald, I know that the Hungarians, the Germans or the Italians tell you things: It is not true, listen to me, “I did this not because I was Juncker, but because I was the President of the Commission, and he was beginning to realize it”

Like Clinton, Juncker knew how to draw Trump’s heart. “When we first met, I gave him a picture of General Patton’s grave in the Hamm cemetery. Someone had told me he was a great admirer. I also had a dedication added: “Dear Donald, don’t forget our common history, I think he gave me the friendship treaty between our two countries signed in 1962. It really brought us closer together”

Juncker likes to believe that Trump, like other American presidents before him, would have shown a greater interest in Europe in a second term. “We’ll never know. But by the end of his first term he had at least got a better understanding of the European idea “He believes, although it is true that in his first few months as President” he really slandered Europe, which is seen as an invention against the US, with an unreliable Germany and the French who are described as a nation without a backbone””

The state aid debates to Airbus in Europe and Boeing in the US sparked tension. “He sanctions Europe and I sanctions the US to annoy them, and it worked pretty well because they were there elected officials in the US disliked the European reaction to a federal decision at all “Finally” in 2018 I was able to end this strange war on trade that existed between us, with the risk of taxing European car imports “

But Juncker also got a taste of Trump’s paradoxical behavior “At our joint press conferences, he complimented me and said, ‘I love Jean-Claude’ or ‘It’s a tough guy’, insofar as you might have thought that he wanted me to negotiate for the US and not Europe because the results would have been better. Then he would leave by publicly insulting me and saying, “Hey, rude killer” so it was a two-level relationship “

Like many others, Juncker saw a very different kind of president arrive when Obama was sworn in, “He was younger than me, which was a new aspect in my international career, I really liked him, I was very excited when he was elected. He was in Hawaii Born to a Kenyan father and Irish mother, who had lived in Indonesia He had spent much of his life abroad while the other presidents, including Bush and Trump, did not know the world because they had not traveled, we have to travel to understand, to go there, to see the great and small moments of the nations use “

While he was less focused on Europe during his first mandate, that changed during the second

Juncker negotiated a lot with him in 2014 and 2015 “and I can say that he was very tough, especially on commercial matters. He imposed a rate of 2% on defense spending on European NATO member states”

“This is the one I have seen the most and with whom I have had very serious, very professional conversations. But there was also a sympathy between us, which meant that he kept asking me about European issues,” recalls Juncker

As with Clinton however, “I found that they were largely indifferent to Europe during their first mandate, but this changed during their second mandate, probably after seeing the influence of Europe on a global scale” during Bush’s second term contacts have multiplied”In general, the two had a good relationship, but critical discussion topics remained:” I was against his wish to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, but also against the war in Iraq “

The Bush era was also that of the Second Gulf War and the resistance of various European countries “We talked about it and I remember that the French” No “did not surprise him, but the German rejection had a strong impact on him because he saw the country as a natural ally in important world issues “

The discussions would continue, but in the end it was Juncker who formed the roots of a new beginning and a reconciliation “I invited Bush to a Europe-US summit in Brussels in 2005. Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder were against his coming, but he came and from there the historical structure of relations between the two sides of the Atlantic was slowly restored, even if the differences were still great

“He’s probably the one I had the best personal relationships with, he was a great president, he was the first American president I had professional relationships with, they were also harmonious relationships because our bonds were unique and very strong”

With foundations erected in LuxembourgDuring his time as governor of Arkansas between 1983 and 1992, “he visited Luxembourg to implant an Arbed wire mill in his state of Pine Bluff. He had not been welcomed by any Luxembourg politician, no one wanted his free time for one Sacrifice governor “

Invited by Clinton to Washington for an initial meeting, Juncker informed the President that his journey would not begin with the White House but with a visit to the Arkansas-born factory “Bill Clinton loved it because the Americans are, let’s say, very sentimental “That was all it took to seal a strong and lasting relationship

The two men met often afterwards and “we had many conversations, especially during the conflict in Bosnia and Kosovo”

Bill Clinton

World News – UK – “I told Joe Biden to run for President”: Juncker – Delano – Luxembourg in English

Source: https://delano.lu/d/detail/news/i-told-joe-biden-he-had-run-president-juncker/213201