Let us this week spare a weepy thought for Jean-Claude Juncker, who in November concludes his five-year term as president of the European Commission.
Ruminating on the trials he has endured on behalf of Europe, he observes that unlike the many heads of national governments he has to meet, he has not had an impressive official residence.
Even Nato’s secretary-general has one of those in Brussels, he laments. Homeless families across Europe will feel his pain, forced as he has been to live in a €3,250-a-month apartment.
And, of course, running the European Commission entails essential worldwide travel, but — again, unlike other heads of state and governments — he has not had an official EU presidential aircraft.
The president of the United States has one, he notes.
Our government has its jet, France’s president has one, and Britain’s prime ministers flies Royal Air Force.
The EU president must use commercial flights or air taxis at up to €36,000 a trip.
But with the rough comes the smooth: the EC president pockets an annual compensation package — comprising salary, and money for accommodation and travel — worth €369,600, and in Juncker’s case there might be a reward in the form of a pension as former prime minister of the tax haven also known as Luxembourg.
Perhaps during his remaining months, we’ll hear more from him about the EU’s achievements — and challenges — and less about the trappings of office.