European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker openly derided Brexit today by telling European grandees the English language was "losing importance" following Britain's decision to leave the EU.
Speaking in the I talian city of Florence, Mr Juncker joked: "I will express myself in French because, slowly but surely, English is losing importance in Europe".
His dig at the United Kingdom came after European Council president Donald Tusk appealed for calm following an angry spat that saw Theresa May accuse some in the EU of seeking to influence the result of the UK's General Election.
Prime Minister Theresa May accused Brussels on Wednesday (3 May) of trying to influence next month's election with "threats against Britain" over Brexit talks, as the two sides traded blows over the country's exit bill.
Tusk warned that Brexit negotiations risk becoming "impossible" as he called for "discretion, moderation and mutual respect". At a recent European Union summit May slapped down reports that Brexit negotiations would be conducted in French, and after the June referendum European Union officials made it known they planned to downgrade the use of English in the corridors of Brussels.
And EU President Donald Tusk said that early rows over Brexit risked the entire process.
EU's chief Brexit negotiator lays out a long list of demand for EU residents in Britain https://t.co/Ypjx4iHbvD pic.twitter.com/4t7JBS0ToM- Bloomberg Brexit (@Brexit) 5 mai 2017 "The EU requires crystal clear guarantees that rights will be effectively enforced", Barnier told the meeting in Florence.
The two sides have clashed over the costs of the exit, prompting May to accuse the European Union of toughening its stance in statements "deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election" next month.
The president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, has rejected Mrs May's claims that there were "European politicians and officials" trying to affect the 8 June vote. "It would be detrimental to everyone were we not capable of reaching an agreement", Tajani said.
The head of the European Union's strategic body tweeted Thursday: " #Brexit talks hard enough.
Juncker and other European Union officials have been engaged in a war of words with British leaders this week ahead of the looming Brexit negotiations.
"I'm hesitating between English and French", Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, which will hold talks with the United Kingdom over its decision to leave the EU on behalf of the other countries, told an audience in Italy. "If we start arguing before they even begin they will become impossible", he said. "These negative consequences simply follow logically from the choice made by the British people".
Barnier said "we will defend the interests of the 27 (remaining) member states and the single market".