Jean-Claude Juncker has attacked "totally ridiculous" MEPs for failing to turn up to an important morning debate in the European Parliament and vowed he "will never again attend a meeting of this kind".
Italy's Tajani became president of the parliament in January and served as European Union transport commissioner from 2010 to 2014.
Tajani interrupted from the podium: "You can criticise the parliament but it is not the Commission which controls parliament". "It's the parliament that has to control the commission", said Tajani, a fellow member of the centre-right EPP party.
"The fact that about 30 deputies attend this debate demonstrates sufficiently that the parliament is not serious", he went on. The parliament has increased its clout over the past year but many EU decisions are still made by the leaders of the member states or by the Commission, not by the European Parliament.
"The Commission does not control the parliament".
Juncker, himself from the small Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, was visibly annoyed as he watched the proceedings in the near empty parliamentary chamber in Strasbourg. Philippe Lamberts of the Greens groups, one of the few to show up, was seen applauding the rebuke of Juncker.
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Only thirty-something of the Parliament's 700 MEPs turned up and Mr Juncker suggested the number would have been far greater if it was a debate on the presidency of a country such as France or Germany.
Juncker personally called out German Chancellor Angela Merkel and newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron's over their absence during his rant.
Standing up in nearly empty chamber in Strasbourg, Juncker denounced the legislative body as "ridiculous, totally ridiculous".
"I will no longer take part in such meetings, and it's also needed a respect for the small states", Juncker said.
Timmermans said "this is what happens when impassioned politicians speak from the heart" before adding "especially when you are from a smaller country and you believe prime ministers deserve the same level of respect whatever the size of their country".