European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker has said that “English is losing importance in Europe.”

He was speaking in Florence, Italy, “amid tensions with the UK government over looming Brexit negotiations,” BBC is reporting.

And he spoke in French – explaining his choice of language in this way:

“Slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe, and also because France has an election.”

As for Britain’s decision to leave the EU, he described it as “a tragedy.”

“We will negotiate fairly with our British friends, but let’s not forget that it is not the EU that is abandoning the UK – it is the UK that’s abandoning the EU, and that makes a difference,” Juncker said.