Boris Johnson is painting an unreal picture of the EU for the British public and should return to Brussels to see whether his claims chime with “reality”, the president of the European Commission has claimed.
Jean Claude Juncker also hinted that if Britain’s highest profile campaigner were to become prime minister then his discussions with European partners may be strained.
“I’m reading in (the) papers that Boris Johnson spent part of his life in Brussels. It’s time for him to come back to Brussels, in order to check in Brussels if everything he’s telling British people is in line with reality,” he said.
“I don’t think so, so he would be welcome in Brussels at any time.”
Asked whether the European institutions would be able to work with Johnson if he entered Downing street , he replied: “The atmosphere of our talks would be better if Britain is staying in the European Union.”
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, added: “We have to respect every democratic decision, the result of the referendum and possible political consequences of the referendum. But I think it’s quite normal to have normal relations with politicians and at the same time to have your own opinion about their opinions.”
Speaking in Ise-Shima ahead of the official opening of the summit, Tusk also tackled the migration crisis, saying that Europe had responded first because it was the most affected. The geography meant it was the responsibility of Europe first and foremost.
But he called on the “global community to show solidarity” and recognise that it was a “global crisis”.
In particular he asked for financial support for the “public good” that countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon were doing in helping refugees, and for help with resettling schemes.
“Europe is doing a lot and is happy to share its experience, he said.
Meanwhile, Juncker promised that the EU would “step up” its measures to defend the steel industry against dumping.
He said the issue would be part of any decision on granting China “market economy status”, something that Britain had pushed for but which the steel industry has warned could further damage Britain’s ability to compete.
“Global overcapacity in the steel sector is of great concern to Europeans. It has cost Europe thousands of jobs since 2008 and the over-capacity in China alone has been estimated at almost double European annual production,” he said.
“So we will make it clear that we will step up our trade defence measures. This effort has started and as far as the market economy status for China is concerned, we will discuss this in detail. The European Union has launched an in-depth impact assessment and when this impact assessment is finished, we can deliver in the best way possible.
“Everyone has to know that if somebody distorts the market, Europe cannot be defenceless.”
Asked what advice he would give Mr Cameron in his efforts to preserve steel-making in south Wales, Juncker said: “I think we have a general problem in Europe when it comes to the Chinese over-capacity. This is affecting all our countries. We have 22 steel-producing countries in the European Union and all the countries with steel industries on their territories have the right to defend their industry.”
Juncker’s words come after Cameron said he could still offer “no guarantees” about the future of the Port Talbot sites, which is one of a number threatened by Tata’s decision to sell its British assets.
The Indian company was expected to announce a shortlist of companies bidding to purchase its UK arm after a board meeting on Wednesday but failed to do so. Eighty companies are thought to be in the running.
It is believed that one option on the table is that Tata would take on investment support offered by the British government and maintain its operations.
Cameron said the issue of overcapacity in the steel industry would be on the agenda at the G7 on Thursday in one of a number of sessions planned between world leaders.
On his way to Japan, the prime minister said steel would be discussed alongside counterterrorism strategies in the Middle East, keeping up pressure on Russia over the Minsk agreement and dangers facing the world economy.
Although Britain’s EU referendum is not on the formal agenda, Cameron is expected to discuss it on the margins. All the world leaders have expressed their support for Britain’s continued membership.
“But the G7 and G20 have already made clear that it is a threat to economic growth, a risk to the world economy,” he added.
On Thursday morning, the prime minister joined other G7 leaders at Japan’s most sacred shrine at Ise-Jingu. They were then escorted to the inner Naiku shrine – an area reserved for Japan’s most distinguished visitors.
After a cleansing ceremony with holy water, Cameron planted a Japanese cedar tree with the French president, Francois Hollande, and the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, using shovels handed to them by schoolchildren from the Mie Prefecture.
This article was written by Anushka Asthana Political editor, in Ise-Shima, for theguardian.com on Thursday 26th May 2016 06.15 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010