"It's a tragedy", Juncker said in French in a speech to the European University Institute in Florence, before speaking briefly about the French election.
The president of the Commission explained his choice of the French language in Florence, assuring listeners that English was "slowly but surely losing speed in Europe". "The French will vote on Sunday, and I would like them to understand what I am saying about Europe and the nations", Juncker said in English before moving on to French.
In his speech, the former Luxembourg Prime Minister also predicted harsh negotiations ahead of his meeting in London the following week with British Prime Minister, Theresa May. The latter made accusations on Wednesday of "European officials" wanting to interfere in the British legislative elections scheduled for June 8.
He did not comment directly on these statements, even adopting a conciliatory tone when he referred to the "weaknesses" of the European Union. The latter, he said, can "partially explain the outcome of the referendum in Britain".
"The EU, in many respects has done too much, especially the Commission", he said, referring to "too much regulation and too many interferences in the lives of our fellow citizens". The Commission has reduced the number of legislations it proposes to member states to 23 per year, compared to 130 previously, he said.
But, regarding the negotiation that is ahead, one important thing must not be forgotten: "It is not the European Union that is leaving the United Kingdom, it is the United Kingdom that is leaving the European Union, and this difference of status will and must be felt in the years to come", according to Juncker.
The Brussels Times