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Brexit: English is losing its importance in Europe, says Juncker

Mis à jour : 5 Mai 2017
European commission chief’s remark follows Theresa May’s broadside against EU ‘meddling’ in UK elections

Jennifer Rankin in Florence

Friday 5 May 2017 12.15 BST Last modified on Friday 5 May 2017 12.24 BST

The English language is losing its importance in Europe, the president of the European commission has said amid simmering tensions over the Brexit negotiations.

Speaking to an audience of European diplomats and experts in Florence, Jean-Claude Juncker also described the UK’s decision to leave the EU as a tragedy.

“Slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe,” Juncker said in English, before switching to French and adding: “France has an election and I want to be understood.”

Making a stout defence of the EU, he said the UK had voted to leave the project despite historic successes and a recent uptick in economic growth. “Our British friends decided to leave the EU, which is a tragedy,” he said.

Juncker promised to negotiate with the UK in full transparency, but added that “there should be no doubt whatsoever that it is not the EU which has abandoned the UK, it is the UK which is abandoning the EU”.

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