Jean-Claude Juncker promised to breathe life into Europe’s tech economy and push it into a brave new digital future during his 2014 bid for the European Commission presidency.
Three years later, Europe has made some progress, and Estonia, one of the bloc’s most e-connected members, is taking over the Council of the EU’s rotating presidency, promising even more advances.
As for Juncker, well, let’s just say technology isn’t a personal pursuit — he confessed today to not owning a smartphone.
“I shouldn’t say but I have to say it,” Juncker said in Estonia, which takes over the presidency on Saturday “I still don’t have a smartphone. So I couldn’t become prime minister in Estonia, this would be totally impossible.”
At the news conference, which focused on Estonia’s plan to dedicate its presidency to promoting digital innovation and e-government services, Juncker admitted that he was not exactly up with the latest technology.
He joked that his invitation to the opening festivities had to be sent by regular post. “Jüri knows that,” Juncker said, turning to the Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, “which is why he sent me, like in the 19th century, a postcard inviting me to Tallinn … Even without being a techie, I know that our future is digital.”
A senior Commission official confirmed that Juncker carries an old Nokia phone, noting that it had the advantage of not being “prone to cyberattacks.”
This is not the first time Juncker has poked fun at his self-proclaimed lack of technological skills.
One of Juncker’s campaign videos from 2014 quipped: “You don’t have to be a techie to believe in technology.”
Juncker is hardly the Commission’s only Luddite. Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger, formerly in charge of many digital initiatives, once told a crowd he preferred an old-fashioned newspaper to Twitter and document printouts to a tablet or iPhone.