European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, kicks off a speech at the EU State of the Union summit in Florence by announcing he would speak French as ''slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe.'' As David Pollard reports, it caps a week in which the language between Brussels and the UK government has got more heated over Brexit.
The State of the Union conference in Florence. A chance for EU leaders to ponder the issues facing the bloc - and for some to make clear they're getting used to the idea of an EU without Britain. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT, JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, SAYING: "I am hesitating between English and French. But I made my choice. I will express myself in French, because slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe." The language problem between Brexit-bound Britain and Brussels this week is that it's got more heated. Juncker reported in the German press as saying Theresa May lived 'in another galaxy' when it came to her expectations for a favourable UK-EU deal. The British prime minister accusing Brussels of trying to sway a UK general election next month. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LCG SENIOR ANALYST, JASPER LAWLER, SAYING: "Europe won't want Britain to have a a really solid deal here that puts them in a better position than if they were within the EU. And so that's going to make negotiations tricky. It's going to be a really bumpy road." But the end of the same week also faces another milestone event. The second round of a presidential election that has turned the established order of French politics on its head. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT, ANTONIO TAJANI, SAYING: "We still have many citizens who turn to populist forces because they feel that they no longer have hope. This is a cry of pain." If for now Emmanuel Macron's likely victory would put an EU-friendly candidate into power. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LCG SENIOR ANALYST, JASPER LAWLER, SAYING: "Markets are feeling quite positive ... The political risk worry that we began the year with seems to be ebbing away and may almost completely disappear at the end of this French election." One crisis potentially averted for the EU - until, say its sceptics, another one comes along.