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December 12, 2018 
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker jokes with European Union's chief Brexit negotiator... 
Strasbourg, France 
Pictures of the Year: A picture and its story 
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker jokes with European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt ahead of a debate on the Future of Europe at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, February 6, 2018. Reuters photographer Vincent Kessler: "Covering sessions at the European Parliament involves attending a succession of debates with a succession of speakers producing a succession of similar pictures. European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker is always one of the first to arrive in the plenary room, so I usually come early myself to try to take pictures different from the ones we can expect in the official frame of the debate. At this time of the day, 15-30 minutes before the start of the debate at 9:00, the plenary room is quite empty, giving Juncker the opportunity to have a chat or joke with MEPs or even with photographers. Also in the plenary room was Guy Verhofstadt, president of one of the political groups in the European Parliament and the EP's chief negotiator on Brexit. He also ran against Juncker when the latter was elected president of the commission in 2014. The two know each other well, having also served as prime ministers of their neighbouring countries, partly at the same time. So an opportunity to take pictures of the two together is always interesting and this is why I decided to stand in front of Verhofstadt in the plenary room, waiting for Juncker to come over. Juncker is a character, always breaking the rules and ready to laugh and especially at himself. As Verhofstadt was reading some papers, Juncker discreetly snuck up behind him and ruffled his hair, giving us the opportunity of a nice and funny picture. Not the kind you usually expect in one of the hundreds of debates I have covered in Parliament!" REUTERS/Vincent Kessler SEARCH "POY STORY" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. 
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