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European Union chief says bloc is 'bouncing back' after crisis-hit decade

13 September, 2017, 19:08 | Author: Jeff Stephens
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This time previous year, Juncker said he had "never before... seen so much fragmentation", and used his union address to pose the question: "Do we want to let our union unravel before our eyes?"

Juncker also said he wanted to expand the use of the euro - a call that might dismay north European nations anxious about the potential internal strains of bringing Romania and Bulgaria into the single currency.

Juncker ruled out for the "foreseeable future" Turkey's membership bid, due to the post-coup crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Turkey has come a long way in moving away from the European Union some time ago", Juncker said in his annual speech on the EU status. The reforms linked to the tighter integration and averting a so-called two-speed Europe.

Having had a say in how the system is shaped, most analysts believe that Britain will remain part of the system, following a similar path to Norway, which has companies that participate in the scheme despite the country not being an European Union member.

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Mr Juncker said Europe's economy was "bouncing back" and the European Union had to move beyond Brexit.

But the Commission President, who will be in post until 2019, warned that despite its drive for trade, the European Union was not composed of "naïve free traders".

He called for the European Union to hold a special summit, in Romania, the day after Britain's departure on March 29, 2019 to "throw off the bowlines, sail away from the harbour".

Juncker himself, speaking to the Politico website, said that "the 2017 speech is indeed more important than the 2018 one".

Junker further promised to conclude trade talks with Mexico and Brazil, while opening up new trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

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European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker told the EU's eastern states on Wednesday he would fight for equal rights for their consumers, but their workers would not be allowed to unfairly undercut those in western members.

"But over the previous year, partners across the globe are lining up at our door to conclude trade agreements with us".

After fierce criticism from Britain over inefficiency in the EU, Juncker proposed that his role as president of the European Commission be merged with that of the European Council.

Addressing the Parliament in response to Mr Juncker's speech, Mr Farage added: "All I can say is, "Thank God we're leaving".

But Juncker will also speak on how to bring east and west together, as what used to be the fearless new frontier with post-communist Eastern Europe turns into a major faultline.

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Mr Juncker set out proposals to merge his role with the presidency of the European Council, now held by Donald Tusk, saying it would make EU institutions clearer and more efficient.

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