European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is looking for a change in the European Union member-state’s approach to the challenges the union faces.
In an article he penned on the Project Syndicate on the need for European solidarity and collective action, Juncker framed the Greek issue that concerned Europe for the better part of 2015 as a test for the Union’s cohesion.
“From the start of the year, the talks on Greece tried the patience of us all. Much time and trust were lost. Bridges were burned. Words were spoken that cannot easily be taken back. We saw Europe’s democracies being played against one another. Collectively, Europe looked into the abyss. And it was only when we were at the brink that we were able to step back,” he wrote.
For Juncker, the three-year 86-billion-euro Greek bailout that was agreed in mid-August and is currently being carried out was the result of support to Greece and commitment to finding a solution.
“The key now will be delivery on reforms, and the European Commission continues to support Greece’s side with a new Structural Reform Support Service, as well as by providing technical assistance at every step of what is still a long journey,” he noted.
Though the Commission President also sought to recognize the EU’s response to the refugee crisis, he also openly lamented the political leaders’ habit to make a commitment at a summit and then not fulfill it in the future.
While the Eurozone crisis has been the major source of concern over the past five years, the rapid arrivals of over one million refugees and migrants in the continent over the past year have come to the forefront and have proven to be a test for European ideas such as the Schengen Area.
In Juncker’s view, it is time for EU countries to comprehend that the Union should and can act collectively, and bodies such as a common coast guard would be beneficial for all.
“If I were to compare the timelines for the refugee crisis and the financial crisis, I would say we are now in February 2010, when European countries still thought that the tools they had at the national level were sufficient to address problems that we now know required a coordinated, European response,” he noted.