The issue of Greece, the refugee crisis and Brexit were some of the major challenges that the outgoing European Commission had to deal said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who on Tuesday delivered his final speech to the Europarliament plenary in Strasbourg before his term comes to an end.
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, noting that it was one of the issues that caused him concern. "We gave back to Greece the dignity it deserves," he underlined, adding that for a long time the Greek people's dignity had been trampled on and the Commission had wanted to act in favour of Greece.
He reminisced about the 'long nights' he had sat up with a succession of Greek governments (the Samaras government and then the Tsipras government) noting that he had made a great effort to find a solution to the "Greek issue".
"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. 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."