Scorned MEPs said Frenchman Michel Barnier has “no mandate” to make a bargain with the UK on their behalf and instead prepared to unveil their own list of Brexit demands.
In a furious warning shot influential German politician Manfred Weber warned Europe's leaders they would be “well advised to listen to” the EU parliament, which has the power to sink any exit deal.
The conservative MEP also described the task of uncoupling Britain from the rest of Europe as “mission impossible” and said it will “create a lot of damage, especially for the Brits”.
His outburst marks the escalation of a growing turf war within Brussels over who will take control of the Brexit talks, with parliamentarians feeling sidelined in the process.
The European Council, made up of the 27 leaders, and Mr Juncker’s Commission have stitched together a pact designed to give themselves primary influence in the negotiations.
The Brussels boss personally appointed Mr Barnier, a former agriculture French minister, to lead the delicate negotiations over Britain’s future relations with the EU.
German MEP Manfred Weber said the EU parliament will set its own Brexit agenda
Guy Verhofstadt wants to offer British people 'associate citizenship' of the EU
But speaking in Strasbourg today Mr Weber fumed: “Frankly speaking there is a mandate from the European Commission for Michel Barnier, but not a mandate from the European Parliament.
“The only parliament on the continent who will vote in favour or against [the Brexit deal] is the European Parliament and that’s why we define our own rules.”
He stressed that MEPs should be treated on an equal footing to the leaders of member states, saying their thoughts on Brexit were “equally important” to those of the likes of Angela Merkel.
And he added: “We are independent and everybody is well advised to really listen to us. We have to defend the ideas and the interests of 440 million rest Europeans and that is what we will do for sure.”
Mr Weber, who is chairman of the powerful EPP grouping, was also scathing of the British electorate’s decision to leave the European Union in last June’s election, claiming Brexit will show people how much the EU has done for them.
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We are independent and everybody is well advised to really listen to us
German MEP Manfred Weber
He said: “When I have a look on the content and at the topics on the table, for me it is still a mission impossible ahead of us that we can manage this. This will create a lot of damage, especially for the Brits for sure.
“Nobody had the wish to do this but it is a reality and we have to start to recognise that this will not be an easy task ahead of us, especially having in mind to defend the interests of the European Union.”
Speaking about Brexit he added: “It will be a mirror to show people in the European Union that it’s much better to reform the European Union than destroy the European Union.
“It will show what Europe is all about. None of the British politicians ever explained to people in Great Britain what is Europe, nobody, and with Brexit everybody will understand this in a negative way.”
The German MEP was speaking alongside the EU parliament’s Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, at a press conference laying out the priorities of their political groupings over the next few years.
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Once dubbed the 'most dangerous man in Europe', Michel Barnier is the Vice President of the European People's Party.
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The veteran French politician has previously served as EU commissioner for internal market and services and also regional policy.
Mr Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, confirmed that MEPs are working on passing resolution immediately after the triggering of Article 50 setting out their demands for the negotiations.
It is set to include an offer of “associate citizenship” for Britons who do not want to lose the right to travel and work in Europe, but will likely also entail numerous demands of the UK in return.
Mr Verhofstadt said: “The purpose of this resolution is to give the opinion of the parliament and to influence, naturally, the guidelines that will be decided by the European Council and that will be given to the European Commission and to Michel Barnier.”
During the press conference the pair set out a number of other priorities they want the Brussels parliament to pursue in the immediate future including taking over control of ratifying trade deals from member states, forcing countries to exchange immigration data and putting in place the framework for an eventual EU army.