Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Juncker speech: EU Commission president savages May’s Brexit plan

Commission President Jean Claude Juncker during the State of the Union address last year Commission President Jean Claude Juncker during the State of the Union address last year
Deanna Wagner | 13 September, 2018, 15:33

The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has delivered a serious blow to Theresa May's hopes of salvaging her proposal for post-Brexit trade relations with the EU, using a major speech to warn the Chequers plan to keep the United Kingdom in a single market for goods was unworkable.

Later, asked by the BBC whether he wanted the European Union to have superpower status, Juncker was cautious in his language. He said it was "absurd" that Europe pays for 80% of its energy import bill - worth €300 billion a year - in USA dollars when only roughly 2% of European Union energy imports come from the US. "We have to be super but not a superpower".

Twitter (TWTR) and YouTube owner Google (GOOGL) had already agreed to work with the European Union on a voluntary basis to tackle the problem.

But Juncker's direction of travel was clear.

Particularly, the amended proposal for the reinforcement of the EU Asylum Agency, aims to ensure that Member States can rely on full EU Operational Support at all times. We need more solidarity, and solidarity must be lasting and organized'.

Death toll from Afghanistan blast rises to 68
Both the Taliban and IS carry out near-daily attacks in Afghanistan targeting security forces and government officials. Earlier, five people were injured in two bomb attacks near a school in the same province.

Speaking hours before MEPs voted to trigger the bloc's most serious sanctions procedure against Hungary for its threat to the rule of law, Juncker conceded that the European Union was "imperfect".

"In 1913, Europeans expected to live a lasting peace", Juncker said. "The strength of a united Europe, both in principle and in practice, gave me the clout I needed to get tangible results for citizens and businesses alike", Juncker said.

Juncker renewed calls for states to push ahead in developing an European Union defense capability independent of the US -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance and to embrace Africa through investment and a sweeping new free trade area - part of a strategy to curb the flow of poor African migrants which has set European Union governments at each other's throats and fueled a sharp rise in anti-EU nationalism. As the centenary nears of the end of World War One, he recalled how Europeans were taken totally by surprise by its outbreak and urged more respect for the EU as a force for peace against nationalistic "poison and deceit". 'We need a lot more.

"The geopolitical situation makes this Europe's hour: the time for European sovereignty has come", said Juncker.

Europe needs a new vision and new goals, and all true Europeans have to defend EU values in campaigning for next year's elections and forming a new governance system afterwards, said Udo Bullmann, the leader of the Social Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament.