Marine Le Pen compares Jean Claude Juncker’s State of the Union speech to a 'funeral for the EU'

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The Independent Online

Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union speech has been branded "insipid and faulty" and compared to a “funeral for the European Union” by prominent eurosceptic politician Marine Le Pen. 

Ms Le Pen, leader of the right wing Front National party, also promised a referendum in France on EU membership if elected as French President in 2017. 

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Juncker admitted the EU is facing an existential crisis in the face of rising nationalism and populism. He expressed “respect and regret” at the UK’s vote to leave the union. 

He also spoke about inequality and social justice, trade, migration and borders, security and defence and Syria.

But Ms Le Pen branded the speech “insipid and faulty" and said “this is like a funeral for the European Union.” 

She continued: "You haven’t been paying attention to the ambition of people in the European Union to re-establish and retake their sovereignty and their independence."

Ms Le Pen added that the British vote to leave the EU proved withdrawal was possible without harmful ramifications. 

“Brexit has really broken a taboo, it has showed that one can leave the EU and come out better,” Ms Le Pen said.

“The catastrophic visions were just a lie. The UK is doing quite well, the shock that you wanted to see has now turned into trust, everybody thought there was going to be apocalypse falling on the UK but that didn’t happen.”

Ms Le Pen’s comments were welcomed by some in the chamber, including many Ukip MEPs. However, not all representatives looked upon it favourably. Labour MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, Richard Corbett, described the applause as a “very unpleasant sight”.

During his speech, Mr Juncker admitted that the EU “doesn’t have enough union…There are splits out there and often fragmentation exists…That is leaving scope for galloping populism.”

He also used the suspected racist murder of a Polish national in Harlow, Essex, as an example of what can happen if Europe becomes divided. 

“We Europeans can never accept Polish workers being beaten up, harassed or even murdered in the streets of Essex,” Mr Juncker said. 

Ms Le Pen did not mention the murder and other attacks against Polish people in Harlow. 

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