UK Will Offer Troops to Support EU Operations After Brexit

Frederick Owens
September 13, 2017

"Turkey has been taking giant strides away from the European Union for some time", Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the executive Commission, said in his annual keynote speech to the European Parliament on the state of the bloc.

Juncker called for an elected "single president" to lead the EU, merging his job as head of the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, and the president of the European Council of member states, now held by Donald Tusk.

Juncker closed his speech with a hope that European Union citizens would wake up in 2019 with a single president at the helm.

"We have to get what we give", he said.

The EU has refused to broach any aspect of the future trade relationship until Brexit talks have achieved sufficient progress on citizen's rights, the Irish border and Britain's financial bill for leaving the EU.

And it makes no mention of the prospect of an European Union army - a key concern raised by Vote Leave campaigners in last year's referendum.

Jean-Claude Juncker was speaking two days before European Union finance ministers meet to discuss plans to introduce higher taxes on digital multinationals like Google and Amazon, which stand accused of paying too little tax in Europe.

Meanwhile, Italy has handled an influx of migrants and refugees. "Addressing members of the European Parliament he declared" "Never before have I seen such little common ground between our members states. never before have I seen so much fragmentation".

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He said: "The wind is back in Europe's sails".

"We only had two choices - either come together around a positive European agenda or each retreat in our own corners".

Mr Juncker said the European Commission would open free-trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand and aim to conclude talks with Mexico and South America trading bloc Mercosur by the end of the year.

It claims that this will maximise new trade opportunities and significantly grow the UK's maritime sector to become a global front runner in future innovation and technology.

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.

Unemployment in Europe was at a nine-year low, he said, and the bloc was in the fifth year of an economic recovery that had finally reached every single member state.

He repeated a call to create a post for a eurozone finance minister, but added that the post could be filled by an existing commissioner.

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