European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker today slammed the European Parliament, saying it was “ridiculous, very ridiculous” so few MEPs had turned up to watch him speak.
The extraordinary outburst came as Juncker was speaking to a handful of MEPs in the large Strasbourg chamber in a session to mark the end of the Maltese Presidency of the EU Council, the body representing the European heads of state.
Vowing to “never again attend a meeting of this kind”, Juncker said: “The fact that only about 30 MEPs are attending this debate is enough to show that the Parliament is not serious.”
Switching between French and English, Juncker said “we would have a full house” had French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the Parliament, and that is was a sign of a lack of respect for smaller nations.
His remarks drew a sharp rebuke from Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament president. He said: “It is not up to the Commission to control the Parliament; it’s up to the Parliament to control the Commission.”
The European Commission is technically accountable to the Parliament. Its 751 members are the only directly elected politicians outside of the individual member states, but in practice a large degree of power is situated in both the Commission and the EU Council.
Henry Newman, director of the Open Europe think tank, said: “It’s quite something for the EU institutions to break into such open conflict. And his comments will surely give succour to Eurosceptics across the continent.”