Here, seeking to re-invest some of the reserves Luxembourg has accrued by giving succour to secretive finance houses, tax-dodging tycoons and corrupt Third World dictators, he set about creating his grand vision: a futuristic new city.
His father, Joseph — who is believed to be still alive and living in an old people’s home — had toiled in this steelworks when it forged the alloys that rebuilt much of post-War Europe.
’Tracing the rise of this arch-federalist, who passionately believes in the expansion of the EU and the transfer of powers away from national governments, one must at least admire the way he has shinned up the greasiest pole in politics.
Given his lack of academic prowess, it must have taken enormous drive and ambition — though these characteristics seem wholly at odds with his shambling manner (the Lib-Dem MEP Sally Bowles says he often arrives at important meetings armed only with a few notes scrawled on a hotel’s bedside notepad).
However, since the supine Luxembourg press never scrutinises its politicians, we have only his own version of how a below-average law student rose to become Secretary of State for Labour by his 28th birthday.
Leaving aside, for now, the disquieting suggestion that the newly elected President of the European Commission slurps cognac with his breakfast, one shudders to think what might become of us when the continent’s wallet falls into his nicotine-stained hands.
Visiting Jean-Claude Juncker’s Luxembourg fiefdom this week, I was momentarily reassured to discover that David Cameron’s least favourite Eurocrat lives in a modest house, pootles about the suburbs with his blue-rinsed wife in a Volvo estate, and dresses like a low-grade bank clerk.
During his 18-year prime ministership of Luxembourg, this louche little man with the rheumy eyes, rumpled blue mac and skewiff tie developed some worryingly expensive habits — and this doesn’t refer to his weakness for Glenfarclas malt whisky, bottles of which he is said to have stashed in a fridge behind his desk.One obvious example greets you the moment you touch down at Findel, Luxembourg’s renovated international airport, which came in millions over budget — not least because the Juncker administration decided it needed a new train terminal.Today, almost a decade after work began, many of the shops, offices and flats remain empty, new roads and bridges lead nowhere, and completion is still a distant dream. An explanation came from retired French footballer Sebastian Schemmel, 39, who runs a boutique and restaurant there, named Upton Park, after the stadium of West Ham United, for whom he once played.‘There just aren’t enough people living here to keep us in business,’ he told me glumly.For the rest of Europe, this colossal folly on Juncker’s doorstep sends out a worrying signal, as does the airport with its rail terminal to nowhere.As one journalist put it: ‘If he can’t run a small country like ours efficiently, how can he hope to control 28 countries and 30,000 staff?