In his state of the EU address in Strasbourg today, the commission president skirted over the impact of Britain leaving the bloc
Top Eurocrat Jean-Claude Juncker dismissed Brexit today as he demanded all member states sign up to even closer ties.
In his state of the EU address, the commission president warned Britain that it would ‘regret’ leaving the bloc.
Mr Juncker insisted the ‘wind is back in Europe’s sails’ as he boasted that countries were clamouring to do trade deals.
And he made clear he wanted to push the EU further towards being a federal union – focused on the euro single currency area. He said Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia should join the Schengen border-free zone, and called for the creation of a powerful EU-wide president and finance minister.
Mr Juncker did not mention Brexit until the end of his speech.
‘Brexit is not everything. It’s not the future of Europe,’ he said.
‘We must respect the will of the British people, but we will move forward, we will move forward – because Brexit is not everything, because Brexit is not the future of Europe,’ the veteran politician added.
After British MEPs cheered his reference to the UK’s departure, Mr Juncker said: ‘I think you will regret it quite soon.’
In what appeared to be a pointed jibe, Mr Juncker opened his speech in English talking about the past. But he then switched to French to discuss his vision for the future.
The commission president seized on a recent economic uptick by EU states to say many of its difficulties were being overcome.
The last two years have been dominated by the Greek debt crisis, mass movement of migrants across the Mediterranean, and the Brexit vote.
Speaking at the EU parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Juncker said: ‘The wind is back in Europe’s sails…
‘Let’s make the most to catch the wind in our sails.’
Mr Juncker said the euro was ‘destined to by the common currency of the entire union area’.
He said trade talks should be opened with Australia and New Zealand – insisting he wanted deals to be struck by the time he leaves office in 2019.
Mr Juncker showed his affection for commission vice president Frans Timmermans before delivering his address today
Mr Juncker insisted the ‘wind is back in Europe’s sails’ as he boasted that countries were clamouring to do trade deals
Old foes Nigel Farage and Mr Juncker shook hands before the commission president delivered his speech today
Mr Juncker said he had ‘agonised’ over Europe and been through ‘thick and thin’ with the bloc.
‘The EU has achieved so much in this divided world, inward and outward peace… prosperity for many,’ he said.
‘Europe is about more than the single market.’
Mr Juncker mocked Donald Trump’s campaign slogan as he painted the EU as the future of ‘humanity’.
‘Set against the collapse of ambition in the United States, Europe will ensure we make our planet great again. It is the shared heritage of all of humanity,’ he said.
Mr Juncker said the EU should not ‘annoy’ citizens by ‘nitpicking’, but should concentrate on the ‘big things’ and leave the ‘small things’ to nation states.
But former Ukip leader Nigel Farage responded to Juncker’s plans by telling him: ‘Thank God we’re leaving – you’ve learnt nothing from Brexit.’
Yesterday Theresa May was mocked by MEPs as ‘out of her depth’ after refusing to speak at the European parliament.
Philippe Lamberts, a Belgian who co-chairs the Green group, said the PM was at the ‘very edge of her skills’ and it was ‘starting to show’.
The commission president seized on a recent economic uptick by EU states to say many of its difficulties were being overcome
Mr Farage made sure his union flag was in pride of place when he arrived in the chamber today
The PM (pictured in Downing Street today) has signed up to discuss her plans for Brexit with leaders of the main groups in the EU parliament
He also jibed that Mrs May would have only ‘further weakened the UK’s position’ if she had agreed to appear at the parliament.
The vicious barbs came as it was confirmed that the next round of Brexit talks will take place on September 25 – slightly later than had been expected.
The next round of talks between Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Brexit Secretary David Davis had been due to begin on Monday in Brussels. Last week a row erupted when EU minutes revealed disparaging comments about the British team.
It is thought that Mrs May intends to make a major intervention before that date, potentially on September 21.