Europe has its mojo back, says Juncker, as he predicts United Kingdom 'regret'


Tax reforms in the European Union, such as higher taxation of online giants, should no longer require unanimous votes from EU ministers, the head of the European Commission said on Wednesday, urging the use of rules that limit governments' veto powers. According to the European Union president, it was high time for Romania and Bulgaria to be brought into the EU's border-free Schengen zone "immediately", along with Croatia when it was ready.

Western Balkan states should have a realistic chance of joining the European Union after 2019 but Turkey's abuse of fundamental rights rules out it joining in the foreseeable future.

He said that by the time Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, euro zone membership and participation in the EU's banking union - which entails a single EU supervisor, resolution authority and deposit guarantee scheme - should be the norm for all EU members.

But he says the PM's Brexit negotiators should consider tweaking demands on borders and other key issues to help win over the EU's most influential players.

"In the future, more than 27 member countries will join the EU".

The EU is taking advantage of a cooling of the United States on free trade.

Juncker did not dwell on the Brexit vote, saying it was "not the be all and end all", and instead chose to focus on tax and trade policies, as well as expanding the borderless Schengen area and the eurozone.

And while a future EU-UK trade deal remains a distant prospect, Juncker called on the bloc to seal trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand by the end of his mandate, and push for pacts with Mexico and South American countries.

The latest research shows that most Europeans still hold these frustrations, even if overall favourability towards the EU has increased among member states over the last 12 months.

"Stop calling our member states and members of governments fascists and Nazis".

Mr Juncker proposed a summit on 30 March, 2019 - the day after Brexit takes place - in the Romanian city of Sibiu to map out the future of the European Union with just 27 states.

Last year, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker had little to cheer about in his flagship address before the European Parliament.

"We will not miss any opportunity to step in".

The eurozone should meanwhile be expanded beyond the 19 countries that now use the single currency, in line with the EU's treaties that say all states must join the euro, he said.

"Let us make the most of the moment: catch the wind in our sails".

The union appears to have the upper hand in negotiations with the United Kingdom over its departure, and the threat of populism has receded, so this year's speech conveyed a renewed level of confidence and optimism.

"A Slovak deserves to have as much fish in fish fingers as anyone else", he said.