Jean-Claude Juncker warns Britain over Brexit - 'You will regret it'


In an address that was uncompromisingly federalist, he set out plans to increase passport-free movement around the European Union by making membership of the Schengen Agreement standard for members. "We have now a window of opportunity but it will not stay open forever". But we are going to make progress.

It's a rejection of membership in a multi-country economy, the largest in the world, with a population of 510 million people, and an official commitment to "human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights". British eurosceptic leader Nigel Farage responded to Juncker's plans by telling him: "Thank God we're leaving - you've learnt nothing from Brexit".

In a speech setting out the future direction of the bloc, Jean-Claude Juncker said the UK's exit would be a "sad and tragic" moment but it was "not the be all and end all".

Juncker gave an insight into his vision for the EU's future and how he hopes to keep the other 27 member states together after a tumultuous period.

It will be Mr Juncker's last real chance to lay out his policy agenda for the European Union.

Britain can only help to keep European Union citizens "safe" if Brussels delivers a post-Brexit trade deal, the Government says - controversially linking the two issues in a new negotiating paper. "I am calling for efficiency", Juncker said.

Juncker called on EU leaders to set out a clear vision for the EU's future ahead of May 2019 European Parliament elections, held just over a month after the United Kingdom is scheduled to officially leave the union.

Juncker said that he would also propose that the eurozone's bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, become a full fledged European Monetary Fund. 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 that instead of creating a new post, the job should be given to a vice-president of the European Commission - a suggestion that is bound to meet with vehement resistance from euro zone governments, especially Berlin.

He also warned the idea of allowing future candidates to the European Parliament to stand on transnational tickets, rather than representing nation states, was anti-democratic and "reminiscent of regimes of old". Juncker nevertheless lashed out at European Union countries that breach the "rule of law" - a swipe at Poland and Hungary which have been at odds with Brussels over democratic standards.