Jean-Claude Juncker: 'Europe will keep moving, because Brexit isn't everything'

Jean-Claude Juncker: 'Europe will keep moving, because Brexit isn't everything'

His mention of Brexit brought cheers from UK Independence Party members in Strasbourg.

He added: "I think that people voted the way that they did because they wanted to see change".

In a personal tone, Juncker told MEPs in Strasbourg that the "wind is back in Europe's sails", but warned that the "window of opportunity" for reforms and winning the hearts and minds of citizens will not stay open forever.

European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva previously said it was the opinion of the Commission that both Bulgaria and Romania qualify for entry into the Schengen Area, established in 1995.

He looked ahead to the day after Britain's departure on March 29, 2019, saying Europe should "throw off the bowlines, sail away from the harbour" - and have another summit, in Romania.

The UK has also been looking to set up trade deals with both countries but can not negotiate its own agreements until it leaves the European Union in March 2019.

He argued for a European minister of economy and finance but said it should not be a new position, instead only a reinforced EU commissioner post.

Juncker offered some reassurances on that, saying he did not favour a separate euro zone budget, or a euro zone finance minister, but closer ties between all 27 European Union states remaining after Brexit.

The Government is also offering to agree joint foreign policy positions with Brussels, including co-operating on global sanctions against states or terrorist organisations.

European Union officials, however, play down the idea that Juncker is making for a head-on confrontation with Merkel and Macron when he sets his face against a "multispeed Europe" that the veteran European Union dealmaker believes bears the seeds of the EU's unraveling.

"The aim of today is really to raise the profile of our issues, especially for United Kingdom citizens living in the EU", Jane Golding, chair of the British In Europe lobby group, told AFP.

And Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the UK's role in the continent's defence had "never been more vital".

Nonetheless, his suggestion that the likes of Poland and Hungary, run by deeply eurosceptic governments, should join the strictures of the euro zone is unlikely to win rapid support in Warsaw or Budapest.

"In a union of equals, there can be no second class consumers".

While Juncker can expect a generally warm reception in the European Parliament, a broadly federalist body with the noisy exception of dedicated anti-EU parties, the test of whether his proposals translate into action will be the reactions in the coming months of national leaders in the 27 member states.

However, the commission president said he will not accept lower quality food being sold in eastern Europe.

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