The European Union’s most influential official accused the EU’s elected representatives of only playing up in the presence of one of the bloc’s lesser known leaders, the Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov.
A group of MEPs acted to show support for interpreters at the European Parliament who have announced a series of strikes in protest against a decision to change their working hours.
The interpreters, who give live translations of parliamentary proceedings in the EU’s 24 languages, plan to stop working for up to two hours a day in Strasbourg this week.
After a half hour delay, Mr Juncker said the MEPs would not have joined the protest if German Chancellor Angela Merkel or French President Emmanuel Macron were in the Parliament’s Hemicycle chamber.
He blast: “This is not normal. Full stop.
“Every time I speak too subtly on parliamentary procedures you interrupt me.
“That would never have been done with Mrs Merkel or Mr Macron here.”
The European Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani also took aim at the protesting MEPs, accusing them of acting like “trade unionists.”
The Italian said: “Some members of parliament slowed down the restoration of the audio system out of solidarity with the interpreters.
“These MEPs prevented technicians entering the room, acting as if they were trade unionists.”
This is not the first time Mr Juncker has been highly critical of the European Parliament. In 2017, the Commission President described the institution as “ridiculous” after members failed to show up for a debate.
Standing up in an almost empty chamber in Strasbourg, Mr Juncker denounced the body as “ridiculous, totally ridiculous”.
Estimating only around 30 MEPs were present for a debate with Maltese prime minister Jospeh Muscat, the number he said proved the European Parliament is “not serious”.
Mr Tajani returned fire: “You can criticise the Parliament, but it’s not the Commission’s job to control the Parliament, It’s the Parliament that has to control the Commission.”