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European Union

Juncker: 'We are making a mistake'

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker is not surprised that the EU ended its summit without agreeing on a budget. He discussed the consequences in a DW interview.

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker leaves a two-day European Union leaders summit in Brussels early June 29, 2012. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet (BELGIUM - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS HEADSHOT) // Eingestellt von wa

Jean-Claude Juncker / Luxemburg / Eurogruppe

Jean-Claude Juncker is the longest serving government head in the European Union. "Penny-pinching" by large, wealthy countries that openly do not want to help Europe's poorer nations "annoys" the experienced negotiating leader. "In the end, I hope good common sense carries through with everyone," he said right after the summit ended.

Deutsche Welle: Mr. Juncker, you seem to be vexed after the consultations. Why in your opinion did the summit fail?

Jean-Claude Juncker: I believe we are making a mistake. And this mistake won the most support in member states and in public opinion. The mistake is that we are making a distinction between donor and recipient countries. I strictly hold to the view that all 27 member states are actually recipient counties. Being members of the European Union does us all good. I do not think this almost artificial distinction between donor and recipient countries is any longer in keeping with the 21st century.

Then what did you do today? The EU leaders presented their positions to each other - and then?

Yes, it is not unusual for each to appear with their own national perspective, out of their country's corner, pleading for their own budget. That is a part of the exchange of opinions, so each knows what the other would like to get and what each thinks. But experience shows that we cannot see things through in one session. It takes many sessions, and everyone has to promote the story in their national parliaments.

You want to meet for budget consultations in a few weeks. Do you think leaders can really bring their positions closer together within this short amount of time?

It will be up to European Council President [Herman] Van Rompuy to decide the next time we should sit together. I do not think that will already be the case within a few weeks. Rather, I think that will be the case by the end of January or in February.

Cuts are expected in the EU's development funds, that's to say, in the funds earmarked for the poorest countries in the world. What do you think?

I am of the opinion it does us no good to make savings at the expense of the world's poor. That is easy, because they are not sitting here. The 24,000 children who die of hunger every day are not sitting in session. I am against this.

Jean-Claude Juncker is both prime minister of Luxembourg and president of the Euro Group, the 17 countries that use the euro as currency. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has the highest per capita income in the EU and is among the body's net contributors. The small country at the intersection of Belgium, Germany and France is the site of many EU institutions and the European Court of Justice.

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