STRASBOURG, France – Jean Claude-Juncker appealed for a comprehensive rejection of divisive nationalism on Wednesday during his last State of the Union address as president of the European Commission.
The Luxembourgish politician, whose tenure as head of the European Union’s executive arm is to come to an end in 2019, told members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, that Europe should instead embrace a positive form of patriotism.
“We should reject the kind of exaggerated nationalism that projects hate and destroys all in its path. The kind of nationalism that points the finger at others instead of searching for ways to better live together,” the 63-year-old former Luxembourg prime minister said.
“Living up to Europe’s rallying cry – never again war – is our eternal duty, our perpetual responsibility. We must all remain vigilant,” he added.
In a speech that hammered home the need for a united and strong Europe, Juncker spurned what he termed selfish unilateralist politics.
“I will always champion multilateralism,” he said.
His address came at a time when far-right and euroskeptic parties were slowly entering gaining a foothold in mainstream European politics and trade spats clouded historically close relations between the EU and the United States under President Donald Trump.