EU Views: Joaquín Almunia

Name: Joaquín Almunia
Nationality: Spanish
Occupation(s): Politician; EC Vice President and European Commissioner for Competition (2010-2014); European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs (2004-2010); Spanish Minister for Employment (1982-1986) and Public Administrations (1986-1991)
Connection to Europe: Prominent Spanish politician in favor of the Eurozone and the EU (Europhile); leader of the opposition as secretary general of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (1997-2000), lost in the 2000 Spanish general election; Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), Advisory Council member of the European Policy Centre (EPC), member of the Friends of Europe Board of Trustees
Date of interview: April 13, 2017

In this episode, Spanish politician Joaquín Almunia speaks about the centrality of integration to the European project of “peace, democratic values, human rights, and freedoms” and the need for Member States to come together if they are going to face the challenges of the 21st Century. He explains that while Brexit poses difficulties, the EU will continue the integration process at both the national and supranational levels. Almunia speaks about the failure of European politicians to explain the complexity of the problems and the types of solutions necessary to overcome the present crises to their citizens, and how as a result they are to blame for the rise of populist candidates, who offer criticism rather than viable alternatives. He ends by describing his belief that the EU should not be compared to the United States, as European countries have a diversity of languages, experiences, and history, making integration a much more daunting endeavor.

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