Cyprus has featured as top of the list of missed opportunities in an article written by outgoing EU Commission president Jean Claude Juncker for Politico.
“It’s Jean-Claude here. In a moment of weakness, I committed to writing Playbook on the last working day of my mandate. And so, nous voilà — a little late but none the worse for wear. Indeed, this seems a fitting way to bid adieu to the press corps of Brussels with whom I have enjoyed so many years of good-natured repartee. I certainly won’t be reimbursing @Berlaymonster for stealing his idea for my much acclaimed campaign video, so perhaps this will suffice,” the outgoing EU Commission chief wrote.
And he added:
LOVING EU: It is no secret that Europe is and will always be the great love of my life and so to lead the European Commission over the past five years has truly been the greatest of honors. And what better way to mark the occasion than another (brand new!) montage video, obviously.
The past five years have been no picnic. There were challenging moments that stuck in my mind, and I’ve also got some very fond memories of very special moments — all of them reaffirmed why I do this job. Let me walk you through the highs and lows of my ever-exciting past five years. Also, I’ll have some fresh news for you further down, in good Playbook tradition.”
Juncker then reviews where the EU Commission has started and from there moves on the many challenges faced over the the five years including the Greek bailout and Brexit and also the high points such as the Paris Climate Agreement, support for the euro, Erasmus and the scrapping of roaming fees.
In the section headlined missed opportunities, Juncker writes:
“CYPRUS: The first official visit I made to an EU country as president of the Commission was to Cyprus, where I consumed enough halloumi/hellim to last a lifetime (I didn’t tell them, but I’m really not a fan of this rubbery stuff). It is with great personal sadness that we have not yet seen the reunification of the island, but I live in hope that it can be done.”
Other missed opportunities include the failure to start enlargement talks with North Macedonia and Albania as well as the lack of agreement with Switzerland on the future relationship with the EU.
OVER AND OUT
“ANOTHER PIC ON THE WALL: Here I am back with you. Having packed my boxes and emptied my office, all that’s left to do is to hand over the Treaties and the keys to my successor Ursula von der Leyen. We’ll do this next Tuesday when I will finally take my place on the presidential wall of fame. I can’t leave without a final parting shot beyond this column, however, so will come down to the press room at midday today to say my farewells (just don’t ask me any questions on the contents of today’s Playbook).”
“BIRTHDAYS: There is one of particular relevance to this Playbook author — Jacques Chirac, born on this day in 1932. To speak of Europe today as a community of values and people over interests and a market, is as true as it was when Jacques first said it, more than two decades ago. He taught us all to live by the lessons of history — so today we should pay tribute to his place in history and a legacy that will outlive us all.
“THANKS: To the 32,000 European civil servants who dedicate their lives to making the European Union better every day. I have a particular soft spot for the unsung heroes — the interpreters and translators, the chauffeurs, security guards and cooks. They fill this institution with life and have brightened my quotidien for years now.
“NOT GOODBYE, BUT AU REVOIR: I am not one for farewells, so I regret to inform you that this will not be the last time you hear from me. Even as I withdraw from active politics, I will never cease to lend my voice and my heart to Europe. Prenez-en soin pour moi.”