The existence of the European Union is “not threatened” by the British decision to leave, said on Wednesday by the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, in his annual keynote speech on the State of the Union .
“We respect the decision of the British, but the EU is not threatened in its existence by this decision,” said Mr Juncker at the European Parliament, meeting in session in Strasbourg.
He unveiled a series of economic and security-related measures in Europe. He wants to “concrete”, to reunite a divided Europe, two days before a heads of state summit and 27 governments without the United Kingdom on Friday in Bratislava.
“There are fractures, cracks, fragmentations which are sometimes expressed and it makes the bed of populism”, said the European leader in its inventory.
But “populism does not solve the problem, on the contrary, populism brings problems, let’s be sure of that “, he said, triggering applause from MEPs.
He called on the UK to start the process for “rapidly” leaving the EU in order to “put an end to rumours and Uncertainties”, pleading for a future of a “friendly relationship” with London but in the framework of which the “internal market and the free movement can not be a la carte”.
It would be a “fatal mistake” not to learn from Brexit, also warned the president of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, to which the Bratislava summit on Friday will be “a turning point” on the protection of European external borders to the concerns arising from the migration crisis.
Juncker wants to double its investment plan
Jean-Claude Juncker also called for a more social Europe – against the “social dumping” – and promised to continue the fight against unemployment.
Although he said he was “not a fanatic of free trade”, he felt the need to continue to conclude trade agreements with third world countries, to enable us to “bring us more jobs”, while the free trade agreement with the United States seems deadlocked.
Economically, he also proposed to double the capacity of the investment plan of the same name launched in 2014 to stimulate growth. New target: 630 billion euros until 2022.
Finally, he announced a telecoms reform that the European Commission will detail in the afternoon.
Finally, he also mentioned a new project modelled on this “plan Juncker” but facing developing countries, particularly in Africa, to work on the roots of migration.
The head of the EU executive will discuss the Brussels plans for security and defence, one of the major topics of the Bratislava summit.
Tax evasion in the hot seat
Mr Juncker is also expected to answer the question by MEPs on the major issue of tax evasion, following the resounding decision of the Commission which forced the US giant Apple to reimburse to Ireland 13 billion of euro of “undue tax benefits”, treated as state aid.
“We have seen the Commission in its best face” , welcomed and Philippe Lamberts, co-chair of the Greens. “This is the Europe that citizens want” , added the socialist Gianni Pittella, “that that can recover their confidence. ”
Defence: Juncker calls for a “European Headquarters”
The European Union must “assert defence more” and have a single headquarters to coordinate its efforts with a common military force, also said Jean-Claude Juncker at the European Parliament.
“We have no permanent structure and without it we are not able to work effectively, we must have a European headquarters (…) work to build a common military force”, said MrJuncker in his annual speech on the “state of the Union”.