Jean-Claude Juncker’s top spokesman claimed it was important to distinguish between two different groups of European politicians challenging the core institutions of the European Union. He claimed the EU should focus on those who seek to reform the Union and dismiss those who are out there to “destroy” the Brussels project. He said: “I would distinguish between two groups of people. There are many Europeans, many fellow citizens, who have genuine concerns and worries and questions about Europe.
“We owe these people answers and policy responses. We have been working on many issues that have addressed citizens’ concerns for the last four years, now it’s the moment to remind them where we’re coming from and what we still can do to make their lives better.
“But there is another group. These people are out to destroy Europe.
“We can choose the term to describe them but there is a group of people who do not care.
“They want to destroy Europe, I’m not sure that we have to spend much time on this second group.”
But confronted with the rising of eurosceptic parties “winning the battle of trying to convince people”, Mr Schinas appeared to struggle to address the issue.
Euronews reporter Darren McCaffrey asked: “Isn’t it a problem though that actually they’re winning at least in the battle of trying to convince people?
“They seem to be on the ascendancy and actually the argument for more Europe, better Europe, is being squeezed.”
The European Commission chief startled at first, then claimed the “jury is still out there” and proposed to wait and see how the election go.
It comes as a report by the European Council for foreign relations revealed eurosceptic parties in Europe could win more than one-third of the available seats at the upcoming European Parliament elections.
The report warned anti-European political parties could join forces in favour of the “return to a Europe of the nations”.
Although unaligned on many issues, populists parties could agree to push on a common agenda that would see sanctions on Russia abolished, blocking the European Union’s foreign trade agenda and opposing migration policies.
The report added: “The result of the May 2019 election will be instrumental to the composition of the next European Commission (the EU’s main executive body), including the president and the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
“Once the Council nominates a candidate for the president of the Commission (with a qualified majority), he or she will need to be approved by a majority of the EP’s component members – that is, at least 353 of 705 MEPs in the post-Brexit EP.
“If the candidate does not obtain the required majority, the president of the EP will invite the European Council to propose a new candidate, who would have to follow the same procedure.”