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Plans to block right-wing populists in the EU elections? Right-wing websites put words in Jean-Claude Juncker’s mouth

Elections
Fact-check

CORRECTIV Faktencheck, Germany

10 May 2019, Updated: 22 May 2019

The Compact-Online website claims that EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview that he knew how to prevent right-wing populists being given senior posts – because it was he who decided who was appointed to these, “whatever happens in the election”. However, Juncker did not say this.

On 1 May the Compact-Online website published an article under the headline, “Jean-Claude Juncker: Whatever happens in the EU election, I decide who gets the posts.” The text contains the claim that “However many seats the right-wing populists win, there is no way they will be given any senior posts within the EU apparatus”, because Juncker knows how to prevent it. The article has so far been shared 3,380 times on Facebook.

The Journalistenwatch website also included this claim in an article dated 1 May, which has so far been shared 612 times on Facebook.

Both articles cite as their source an interview given by Juncker to the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita. However, Juncker did not express himself in this interview in the way claimed by the websites.

The websites imply a link between two of Juncker’s comments – but this link does not exist.

Both articles give the impression that Juncker first said, “Those who promote stupid nationalism will pay the price for it in the elections” and then added, “No one knows this, but last time I rejected six Commission candidates put forward by national governments”.

Juncker did indeed make both statements in his Rzeczpospolita interview – but not in this order. Compact-Online and Journalistenwatch present the statements as though they had been made one after the other, with the second one building on the first. This is not the case, however.

What Juncker actually said

The two statements were made in answer to two different questions. Juncker’s comment about “stupid nationalists” did not occur until after his comment about having rejected six candidates. It is therefore clear that there is no connection between the two statements.

Furthermore, Juncker did not use the term “right-wing populists” in the interview with Rzeczpospolita – nor did he “promise” that they will “not be given any senior posts in Brussels after the election”, as claimed by Compact-Online.

Compact-Online also writes: “Juncker knows: no one is going to get in the way of the EU’s ‘integration process’. Even Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party needn’t get its hopes up there.” Juncker did not say this in the interview either.

The Compact-Online headline claiming that Juncker had said “Whatever happens in the EU election, I decide who gets the posts” is therefore a distortion of his actual words.

Our assessment:

Mostly false. The article takes two sentences from an interview with Juncker, but reverses their order and alleges that he made comments that he did not in fact make.

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