Jean-Claude Juncker attacked the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday while addressing the ‘handful’ of MEPs who had turned up to hear him speak, says The Financial Times.
Mr. Juncker, President of the European Commission, spoke alongside Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who was giving the final report on his country’s stint in the EU’s six-month revolving presidency.
‘They faced a chamber shorn of most of its 751 MEPs,’ said The FT.
“The fact that only about 30 members are present demonstrates amply that the parliament is not serious,” the incensed Mr. Juncker told the assembly.
He said he would “never again attend a meeting of this kind.”
European Parliament travels to Brussels once a month for its plenary sessions, but such low-attendance for ‘one of the parliament’s more high-profile agenda items’ will lead for further calls for the visits – which cost around €200m per year – to be ditched.
Though in the past France has repeatedly vetoed the idea.
‘The episode marks a rare public rift in the relationship between Mr Juncker and the parliament, which has been a reliable base of support for his presidency.’
Mr Juncker also clashed with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani after suggesting that the parliament was showing a lack of respect for Mr Muscat.
If it were German chancellor Angela Merkel or French president Emmanuel Macron, he said, “we would have a full house.”
During Malta’s six-month presidency, the Brexit process was official triggered, ‘heralding one of the bloc’s largest institutional challenges in years.’
Estonia took over the presidency on July 1. The UK had been next in line before the June 2016 Brexit vote.
Today, the Parliament is set to debate whether it should have a ‘single seat’ or continue the monthly trips to Strasbourg, though no vote will be held ‘for fear or provoking splits in the assembly’s different political groups.’
Mr Juncker’s outburst was not well received by many of the assembly’s members.
“Juncker must apologise,” said German MEP Sven Giegold.