EUROPEAN COMMISSION President Juncker Will Not Seek Second Term

Jean-Claude Juncker will not seek a second term as president of the E.U. executive body, he told a German broadcaster. Britain’s decision to leave the bloc and the rise of populist parties have weighed heavily on his legacy.
Europe's many crises have taken a toll on Mr. Juncker. Picture source: Olivier Hoslet/EPA/dpa

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker still has two years left in office, but he’s already made up his mind about his political future: “I will not run again,” Mr. Juncker told German public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk in an interview aired Sunday.

Mr. Juncker’s announcement confirms rumors that have long circulated in Brussels. The 62-year old has apparently grown frustrated trying to manage crises on multiple fronts, from the discord over Greek debt negotiations to the polarization over the influx of refugees.

The long-serving prime minister of Luxembourg, a dedicated European, took over the reigns at the European Commission in 2014 promising to bring Brussels closer to everyday citizens frustrated with the 28-nation E.U. bloc.

Instead, Mr. Juncker’s tenure has been marred by the rise of populist parties seeking to dismantle the European Union and the euro-zone single currency union of 19 E.U. countries, including Germany and France.

Britain’s decision last June to leave the European Union has been a major blow to Mr. Juncker’s legacy. He will be the first commission president in the bloc’s history to oversee the departure of a member state.

Negotiations between Brussels and London are expected to take at least two years, an all-consuming process that will sap Mr. Juncker’s political capital.

Mr. Juncker said he’s already busy dealing with issues related to Brexit many hours a day, though negotiations haven’t officially started yet.

“That’s not an assignment for the future,” he told German radio.

His tenure at the helm of the commission has also been tarnished by a tax scandal in his home country of Luxembourg. During Mr. Juncker’s tenure as prime minister, the small country offered favorable tax deals to some of the world’s largest corporations.


Ruth Berschens heads Handelsblatt's Brussels office, leading coverage of European policy. To contact the author: [email protected]