JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker has said the English language is losing its importance in Europe.
The president of the European Commission made the comments during a speech in Florence amid simmering tensions over Brexit negotiations.
Speaking to European diplomats and experts, he went on to label the UK’s divorce from the EU as a ‘tragedy’.
“Slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe,” he said, “The French will have elections on Sunday and I would like them to understand what I am saying.”
He switched to speaking in French after finishing his opening remarks.
He added that Britain decided to leave the bloc despite historic successes and a recent uptick in economic growth.
“Our British friends decided to leave the EU, which is a tragedy,” he said.
Although vowing to negotiate with the UK in full transparency, he added: “There should be no doubt whatsoever that it is not the EU that is abandoning the UK, they are abandoning the European Union and this is a difference which will be felt over the next few years.”
President of the European Council Donald Tusk was forced to intervene, asking May to show ‘moderation and respect’.
Tusk said: “These negotiations are difficult enough as they are, if we start arguing before they even begin, they will become impossible.
“The stakes are too high to let our emotions get out of hand because at stake are the daily lives and interests of millions of people on both sides of the Channel.”