Mr Juncker you're here with your Commission presenting your new work plan, but I can see you've been busy with the PR consultants. You've been busy trying to spend a pretty penny or two, you've been trying to rebrand the European Commission and you've come up with a slogan- A new start for Europe, I mean you couldn't invent it could you? We do it every five years. We should get our money back, I even noticed on the Berlaymont building last week a great big banner with your face on it and the rest of the Commission team. 'A new start for Europe under team Juncker'. Well I don't know about new. This commission has got five former Prime Ministers in it, its got 4 former Prime Ministers in it, its got 19 former government ministers in it, its got 7 former Commissioners in it. I don't know about some bright new fresh start for Europe, it looks a bit more like the knackers yard for failed domestic politicians.
And at the top of it as President we've got you, now please don't think, don't anyone here think, that I'm questioning Mr Juncker's competence, I am not. You are certainly competent, you're a good operator and there are 240 multinationals who all managed to avoid hundreds of millions of euros in corporation tax by paying 1-2 percent tax in Luxembourg during your term there as Prime Minister who would testify that you're certainly a more competent operator than the man who went before you. But please don't give us new, you were Prime Minister of Luxembourg for 19 years, you headed up the Eurogroup, new you are not.
You and this Commission frankly are as stale and musty as a corked bottle of wine. And we're being encouraged by your sidekick Mr Timmermans, who by the way today talked about the circular economy. Sir, I haven't got a clue what you are talking about but it sounds absolutely lovely. And you've told us today that you're going to adopt a minimalist approach to legislation, again rather like Mr Juncker you're rather brighter, cleverer and sharper than those that have gone before you. We're not going to get from you any more proposed bans on olive oil being poured into dishes that we dip our bread into in restaurants, and I suspect under you, you will not be updating the curvature of cucumber regulations that came in a few years ago.
But minimalism is one thing, but what it fails to address is the fact that the very last time we attempted to address within the EU how big the body of law that had already been imposed on our businesses was that was in 2005 and it was 170,000 pages of active legislation. It's probably now a quarter of a million or perhaps even more than that. And I would suggest Mr Timmermans, that what we don't need is minimalism if Europe is to become competitive and to trade globally and competitively - what we need is the axe. You've actually got to start getting rid of excessive regulation, particularly upon the small and medium size enterprises who in any free market economy could not be expected to maintain the same standards for everybody and everything as the giant multinationals.
But there are two areas where minimalism won't work; one, is in negotiating with the UK about immigration. Mr Juncker you have made it clear that it is non-negotiable, free movement of people is non-negotiable, the British want wholesale change. And secondly, there is Greece's membership of the Euro. When it's clear for all to see, she and everybody else would be better off without it. And I suggest, whatever your work programme is actually the next five years will be dominated by Greece in the Euro, and Britain's membership of the European Union and you will spend most of your time, I suspect, dealing with those issues.
Question from floor-
Erm, well I'm not very sure what the question was but it's all very good of you to give me more speaking time. Thank you, as far as Luxembourg norms are concerned, look I've made it clear I'm not especially critical of Mr Juncker. I actually think tax competition and different countries doing thing their own way in a diverse Europe is a good and healthy thing. And by the way, a correction if I may, you're quite right, my flag isn't on my desk but it's never hitherto an English flag, it's been the Union Jack which is the British flag. Thank you.