European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is “concerned about populism” and urges countries in the European Union not to focus on “a narrow national perspective,” a spokesman for the commission said.
The comments followed a posting on Twitter by Juncker’s chief of staff, Martin Selmayr, that linked likely U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump, former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, National Front leader Marine Le Pen in France and Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement in Italy. “G-7 2017 with Trump, Le Pen, Boris Johnson, Beppe Grillo? A horror scenario that shows well why it is worth fighting populism,” Selmayr wrote on Thursday while Juncker attended a Group of Seven summit in Japan.
Asked about Selmayr’s tweet at a regular press briefing in Brussels on Friday, commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein told reporters that he had explained why Juncker “is concerned about populism, why he thinks that giving seemingly easy answers to difficult questions and why focusing on a narrow national perspective instead a broad consensus-based approach is not the right way forward.”
“What this tweet does -- it points to the possibility that having leaders following that approach in the G-7 is not going to enhance stability at the level of the G-7,” Winterstein said.
“Yesterday we discussed extensively what the president thinks about populism and it follows very clearly from that what the tweet means, which is the fact that in four of the G-7 countries there are movements which would fit that populism definition which could lead to replacement of the current heads of state or government before the next G-7 summit takes place, and that clearly would not enhance stability consensus on trade and other important issues faced by the G-7,” Winterstein said. “And all this longish explanation that I just gave you is condensed into 140 characters in this tweet.”