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Jean-Claude Juncker's fury over Von der Leyen's EU appointment: 'It was a mistake'

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Mr Juncker made a damning intervention today as the EU’s vaccine crisis rumbles on. He appeared to condemn the actions of his successor as he criticised the “stupid vaccine war” taking place in the aftermath of tensions between Brussels, AstraZeneca and the UK. Mr Juncker told BBC HARDtalk: “I don’t think that this is the right way… we have to pull back from a vaccine war. “Nobody in Britain, nobody in Europe, understands why we are witnessing such, according to me, stupid vaccines war.

“We are not in a war, and we are not enemies, we are allies.”

His intervention came after Ms von der Leyen threatened to block exports of vaccines to the UK.

Even when Ms von der Leyen replaced Mr Juncker back in 2019, the mood within the EU was far from cordial due to controversy surrounding the way she was appointed Commission President.

When Mr Juncker was elected in 2014, he won via the Spitzenkandidaten system – giving the political group with the most seats in the European Parliament a nomination and mandate to lead the Commission.

However, in 2019, this method was not used.

Instead, Europe’s leaders put forward new candidates, of which Ms von der Leyen came out on top.

Her appointment was strongly criticised by the European Parliament, which accused the EU leaders of going for a ‘‘backroom horse-trade” behind closed doors.

In his last speech as European Commission President Mr Juncker said he regretted that the old system wasn’t used, branding it a mistake.

The Luxembourg politician said “not repeating that in 2019 was a mistake” and that his successor’s nomination “was not very transparent”.

He added: “Unfortunately it did not become a tradition. I was the first and the last Spitzenkandidat.”

During the selection process, high profile figures from across the political spectrum in Berlin warned against Ms von der Leyen’s appointment.

READ MORE: Ireland urged to go to UK for help after EU’s ‘dire’ vaccine rollout

Suddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper, said she “will be unable to cope with the commission presidency”.

French President Emmanuel Macron backed the German politician, saying she has “the DNA of the European community”.

Tensions between the EU and UK in the current vaccine fiasco don’t look like settling anytime soon after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK’s vaccine success was “because of greed”.

He reportedly told a meeting of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs that the UK’s vaccine success had been because “of capitalism, because of greed” before telling those present to forget the remark.



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