The Greek crisis, the refugee crisis and Brexit were some of the major challenges that the European Commission has had to deal with, outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday, in his final speech to the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg.
Making an assessment of his five years in office, Juncker referred to the achievements and failures of the Commission, noting that in 2014 when he took over, Europe was “vulnerable',” beset by several “rifts” and “not particularly popular.”
"I tried to set up a political European Commission," he said and explained that all the Commissioners he chose had been elected, either at a European or at a national level.
Referring to Greece, he hailed this as one of the Commission's successes, adding that the EU “gave Greece back its dignity.”
He reminisced about the “long nights” he had sat up with a succession of Greek governments noting that he had made a great effort to find a solution to Greece's problems.
"Many governments did not want the Commission to be involved. Prime ministers would call me and tell me to stick to things that were in my own remit and let the member-states deal with the Greek problem,” he said.
“I, perhaps somewhat naively, believed that we should respect the Treaty. [This] states that the European Commission is in charge of the general interests of Europe and I believe that it was in Europe's general interests to avoid the Eurozone falling apart," he said, adding: "I believe we were right to do what we did."