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Today departing European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker made his last appearance in the Commission press room to say farewell to the European correspondents before handing over the Commission Presidency to Ursula von der Leyen. Also chief spokesperson Mina Andreeva and her deputy Natasha Bertaud said goodbye, as they will be leaving the spokespersons service. Hundreds of correspondents applauded President Juncker. On behalf of API and all correspondents, former API president en board-member Lorenzo Consoli said the following:

Dear President Juncker,

I’m not here today to give judgment on your achievements as president of the Commission. I’m here to speak on behalf of API and all my colleagues, who may have very different opinions on this. What I can say, on behalf of all my fellow correspondents in Brussels, is that nobody will ever forget Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the major European leaders for almost 30 years, during the difficult times and multiple crises that we have gone through when you were a minister of finance, member and President of the European Council, President of the Eurogroup, President of the Commission.

History will give its verdict on this, because you will certainly have an important place in the history of Europe. Nobody else has been so committed and constantly dedicated to the European project, ‘la construction européenne’, to European public policies, and in keeping Europe together, for such a long time, with such coherence and determination.

In all these years, many of us have appreciated your commitment to European democracy, your consideration for the press, your respect for press freedom. And we’ll certainly miss your personal, outspoken human and emotional touch, your witty humour, your irony, such rare qualities in men and women of power, who tend to take themselves too seriously.

We do regret we have not seen you more often in this press room, in the last five years. The rule of this press room is that we are here to ask questions, to seek answers that often we don’t get, and never to applaud anybody. Today is an exception. Today, your last day in this press room as President, we feel you deserve this exception to the rule. Today we can applaud you for your 30 years of sincere dedication, patience, political ability and courage as a true European leader.

On behalf of all European journalists, farewell President Juncker.

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