September 9, 2015 / 8:52 AM / 4 years ago

Juncker delivers keynote EU speech after mother's death

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his annual State of the Union address on Wednesday, just three days after his mother died, explaining he was honouring his parents’ work ethic.

Conceding that her death and his father being taken gravely ill had left him reluctant to deliver his annual account to the European Parliament, the 60-year-old former Luxembourg premier said he felt it a duty, both to his office and his family.

“My father, who is sick, and my mother who is dead, they always worked,” he told reporters, his voice briefly faltering with emotion after a combative 80-minute speech to lawmakers in Strasbourg. “And so I work too. And so I’m here.”

Members of parliament offered condolences after Juncker’s first annual address as head of the European Union’s executive, during which he issued a passionate plea for solidarity with refugees crowding to Europe’s borders.

According to a death notice in the Luxembourg press, 87-year-old Marguerite Juncker-Hecker died on Sunday.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Catherine Evans

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