Juncker slams ‘ridicu­lous’ EU par­lia­ment

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion chief Jean-Claude Juncker launched a blis­ter­ing at­tack yes­ter­day on a nearly empty Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, spark­ing bit­ter ex­changes with the head of the EU’s only di­rectly elected in­sti­tu­tion. Juncker, known for his sharp wit, was an­gry to find only a hand­ful of MEPs present at the assem­bly in Stras­bourg to hear a re­port on Malta’s just-com­pleted EU pres­i­dency.

But his re­marks drew a sharp re­sponse from par­lia­ment head An­to­nio Ta­jani, who said his col­league was out of or­der and should mind his tongue. “The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is ridicu­lous, to­tally ridicu­lous,” Juncker told the cham­ber, which seats 751 deputies. “I salute those who made the ef­fort to turn up but the fact that only about 30 deputies are here for this de­bate clearly shows that par­lia­ment is not se­ri­ous!” he said.

Ta­jani in­ter­rupted from the podium: “You can crit­i­cize the par­lia­ment but it is not the Com­mis­sion which con­trols par­lia­ment.” “It is par­lia­ment which con­trols the Com­mis­sion!” Juncker re­torted: “There are only a few mem­bers in the ple­nary to con­trol the Com­mis­sion. You are ridicu­lous!” “Mr Pres­i­dent, I ask you, please use dif­fer­ent lan­guage. We are not ridicu­lous,” Ta­jani said. Juncker begged to dif­fer and signed off with a blunt ad­mo­ni­tion: “I will never again at­tend a meet­ing of this kind.” It is a cour­tesy for the head of the coun­try hold­ing the EU’s ro­tat­ing pres­i­dency, in this case Mal­tese Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat, to present par­lia­ment with a re­port on their work dur­ing the coun­try’s six-month lead­er­ship.

Juncker, a for­mer long-serv­ing Lux­em­bourg premier, be­came head of the Com­mis­sion in 2014 promis­ing a more po­lit­i­cal ap­proach. He also has a rep­u­ta­tion for some­times undiplo­matic lan­guage which tends to amuse and in­fu­ri­ate in equal mea­sure. Italy’s Ta­jani be­came pres­i­dent of the par­lia­ment in Jan­uary and served as EU trans­port com­mis­sioner from 2010 to 2014. —AFP

STRAS­BOURG: EU Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker ges­tur­ing as he speaks dur­ing a de­bate at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Stras­bourg, east­ern France. — AFP

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