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Jean-Claude Juncker tells near-empty European Union parliament: 'You are ridiculous'

05 July 2017, 12:22 | Katrina Lee

GETTYMEPs have visited controversial leaders and dangerous countries

MEPs have met with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad

The outburst from the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, earned him a rebuke from the parliament's president, Antonio Tajani, who said: "We are not ridiculous".

Mr Juncker was angered by only around 30 MEPs attending a plenary session to discuss the Maltese presidency of the EU.

"You may criticise the parliament, yes, but the Commission does not control the parliament, it's the parliament that should be controlling the Commission", he said, to a smattering of applause. "It's the parliament that has to control the commission", said Tajani, a fellow member of the centre-right EPP party.

Malta, the bloc's smallest member state, has just finished its term as holders of the six-month presidency of the EU.

The President of the European Commission launched a furious attack on the institution as he vented his frustration at politicians who had skipped the session.

Estimating the number of MEPs at around 30, he said it proved that the parliament was "not serious".

The exchange at the legislature in Strasbourg, France, was even more wonderful since Juncker and Tajani belong to the same EPP Christian Democratic group.

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The views of the parliament bore out Juncker's assertion, with row after row of empty seats.

He went on to praise the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who was spotted laughing as the row unfolded. The Greens were the only political group that was represented, including their Co-Chair Philippe Lamberts.

"I will no longer take part in such meetings, and it's also needed a respect for the small states", Juncker said.

The commission can not compel MEPs to attend parliament but the testy exchange means more people will be counting MEPs in seats when Estonia's prime minister, Jüri Ratas, is in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

Juncker personally called out German Chancellor Angela Merkel and newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron's over their absence during his rant.

He accused the MEPs of ignoring Muscat because Malta was a small country.

Mr Tajani interrupted again and ordered him to "change your language".

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