The President of the European Commission is furious that his plan, to use Brexit as a pretext to launch a new push to centralise power in Brussels, is being resisted by national governments.
The “re-launching” of the European project, aiming to “complete” political and economic union, could be set out in a white paper as early as 8 March.
However, the plan could be seen as a power grab by some voters and is reportedly being resisted by Germany, France, and the Netherlands, who fear it will fuel Euroscepticism in their elections this year.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the unelected head of the European Union’s (EU) executive arm, has other concerns.
“Juncker is angry that some governments are putting narrow electoral short-termism above the future of the project,” a diplomatic source told The Times. “He wants to deepen the union after Brexit and does not want to be part of a legacy that does not.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, a liberal who is about to fight the anti-mass immigration Eurosceptic Geert Wilders in an election, is also said to be pushing for Mr. Juncker to step down.
The president’s potential departure, which would likely coincide with Britain triggering Article 50 and Brexit negotiations, would send shockwaves through the EU.
However, a Commission source repeated their denials, reported by Breitbart on Monday, that Mr. Juncker was considering resigning within in weeks over the row, dismissing the claims as “fake news and alternative facts”.
They did not, however, deny the row over his planned policy paper.
European sources had told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Monday that Mr. Juncker was set to decide to stay in Brussels or resign within four weeks.
He has already confirmed he will not stand for a second term as Commission President and has expressed worries Brexit negotiations will further divide the bloc rather than help it towards his goal of deeper political and economic union.
Member states are becoming even more divided over opinions that “are not necessarily compatible,” he told a German radio station last week, referencing Hungary and Poland.
“The British are going to succeed, without too much difficulty, to divide the 27 other EU countries,” he added. “The British know very well how to achieve this. You promise one thing to state A, another to state B and something else to state C and you end up with no united European front.”