The bid to give new impetus to Europe’s social dialogue launched by the Commission on Thursday (5 March) was book-ended by with some less than sociable to-and-fro between Parliament President Martin Schulz and his Commission counterpart Jean-Claude Juncker.
Juncker would conclude the conference, Schulz explained at the beginning of the day, adding somewhat uncivilly: “And as he always more or less repeats what I say, I ask you nevertheless to stay until the end.”
By the time Juncker arrived to close the conference, he had undergone what was clearly a bumpy journey on a military plane from Madrid where he had met the Spanish prime minister.
“When I got down from the plane I was told that my colleague and friend Martin Schulz had basically said it all here this morning, and that he had also expressed the hope that I would roughly copy what he had said,” Juncker began, somewhat tetchily.
“Of course he [Schulz] does that because he is constantly telling people that I copy all of his ideas, but I wasn’t here therefore I cannot copy his ideas,” he added.
“And I do think that it’s really strange that I have been asked to make the concluding remarks given the fact that I have not been here all day. I wasn’t present at any of the discussions,” said Juncker, no longer hiding his irritation.
“Nonetheless with impressive authority I shall now report to you on the outcome of this event,” he added gamefully.
The look on Vice-President for the Euro Valdis Dombrovskis’ face – he is sat next to Juncker – says it all.