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Barroso hails EU recovery, MEPs slam ‘fairy tale’

Frederick Florin | AFP | Getty Images

European politicians criticized the European Commission president on Wednesday, branding his leadership a "disaster" after he delivered an optimistic state of the union address.

José Manuel Barroso said the EU had "fought back" against the global financial crisis as governments improve their budgets and modernize their economies.

"We suffered the crisis together. We realized we had to fight it together. And we did, and we are doing it," Barroso said in his annual speech.

"The resilience of our Union will continue to be tested. But what we are doing creates the confidence that we are overcoming the crisis, provided we are not complacent."

(Read more: 'Abysmal' Dutch economy threatens euro zone recovery)

Barroso said the recovery was "fragile" and that political instability is the biggest downside risk, but continued to push for a closer union between member states.

But the Commission president was slammed by members of European Parliament (MEP).

Martin Callanan, leader of the conservatives in Parliament, attacked Barroso's ideas about closer integration.

"The problem is of course yet again, you haven't delivered on any of the promises or grand rhetoric you deliver year on year," he said.

"We need a new euro realist direction with different ideas. One that says patriotism is healthy…to want a new direction for Europe is not anti-European."

(Read more: Euro zone seen growing at last: Thank Germany)

While some positive economic data has come out of the euro zone in recent months, unemployment remains a key issue. In July, the jobless rate in the euro zone stood at 12.1 percent. Among the under-25s, the rate was higher at 24 percent.

Green MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou asked Barroso if he had seen the beggars on the streets across Europe and Strasbourg where the Parliament sits, and accused the Commission president of being out of touch with reality.

"He lives in another European union, a different one, not in the one I live in," the Cypriot MEP said.

European politicians are gearing up for elections in May next year when MEPs across the continent will be voted into seats from all of the member states. Barroso's position at the head of the Commission will also be up for grabs as he completes his term and is widely expected to step down.

Czech MEP Jan Zahradil said that he had voted for Barroso in 2004, but will not do so in the elections next year after the "least impressive" address to the chamber.

He criticized the "fairy tale" mantra of a more integrated Europe and said that the leadership has no ideas about what should be done to remedy the troubles in the EU.

"There is an impotence, a desperation out there, it would be farcical were it not tragical. None of these political groups know what to do about what is wrong with the European Union," he told MEPs.

"You are completely off the mark. And luckily the next elections will bring more people like us into the chamber and less people like you."

(Read more: Turning point or false hope: what next for Europe?)

Barroso hammered home the focus the EU is placing on jobs and growth and delivering the banking union was crucial for this to happen.

He also touched on the EU's other policies, particularly trade partnerships with countries like the U.S., aid to Syria, and energy policy.

The Commission president defended himself against the claims by MEPs and praised the European project.

"Europe has not created the problems, Europe is a victim of the problems and is part of the solution."

—By CNBC's Arjun Kharpal: Follow him on Twitter @ArjunKharpal

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