EU's Juncker sees window of opportunity for reform

Trevor Jackson
September 14, 2017

The head of the EU's powerful executive arm is not expected to dwell on Brexit but will say it is a "huge opportunity" that could end divisions among the remaining 27 members, European sources said.

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.

He said: "And he believes that very clearly, he's never hidden that and I think this is all part of a piece".

Turkey got a sharp reminder that European Union membership is nowhere in sight as a result of growing EU concerns about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on political opponents and his bashing of countries in the bloc.

Pro-Brexit supporters argued before the EU referendum a year ago that closer defence cooperation between the bloc's member states was another sign of closer union, and on Tuesday the Veterans for Britain group said the paper was "a grave mistake".

A mass lobby will allow "EU citizens and their British family and friends, along with British citizens living in other European Union countries, to meet with their MP in parliament to raise their concerns and tell their own story", it said.

"Journalists belong in editorial offices amid heated debate and not in prison", said Juncker, prompting applause from EU Parliament members.

By the end of September, the European Commission will present a set of proposals on immigration that will focus on the return of those not eligible to stay in Europe and the opening of legal pathways to migration.

Public sector pay cap to be lifted
This was due to remain in place until 2019/20 , but ministers have announced they are ready to show "flexibility" for next year. He added: "Public sector workers have suffered seven long years of real pay cuts, and are thousands of pounds worse off".

In a letter circulated as he made his speech, Mr Juncker said the past 12 months had been "challenging" for Europe.

He insisted it was "high time" that Romania and Bulgaria were included in the passport-free travel area and Croatia should follow soon.

He made it clear that "this excludes Turkey's entry into the European Union for the time being".

Juncker also wants all states to join the European Banking Union, making bank supervision common across the bloc and more common standards in labour and social policies.

"You have learned nothing from Brexit".

Speaking from 9 a.m. (0700 GMT), Juncker is expected to renew his arguments for the bloc to forge ahead with free trade deals as the United States under President Donald Trump takes a more insular turn.

While Junker suggested that Donald Trump's isolationism gave the European Union a "window of opportunity" to become the world leader, a member of Poland's Eurosceptic ruling PiS party suggested the plan is optimistic in view of the ongoing crisis with migration, unemployment, stagnation and terrorism.

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn was asked whether the Labour leader agreed with Mr Juncker that the United Kingdom would come to regret voting for Brexit.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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