European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave an upbeat annual state-of-the-union speech Wednesday, saying the EU was emerging from years of crisis. In the European Parliament in Strasbourg he outlined new goals during 80 minutes of remarks made in English, German and French. Here are the main points.
Juncker called for the EU, the world’s biggest trading bloc, to open trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand and conclude talks by the end of his mandate in late 2019.
Juncker wants a single EU president to replace the heads of the European Commission — the EU’s executive arm — and the European Council — which groups the heads of the 28 member states and is currently headed by Poland’s Donald Tusk.
EU finance minister
Juncker said the EU should create its own Europe-wide finance minister to deepen integration of the Eurozone. He also called for expanding the Eurozone beyond the current 19 member countries.
Juncker called for the passport-free Schengen zone of 26 countries to expand to Bulgaria and Romania “immediately” and to also include Croatia when it meets the criteria.
Juncker dealt with Brexit in less than 100 words of his speech, saying Britain and the EU would “regret” the decision but the EU must not be held back. He urged the EU to hold a summit in Romania shortly after Britain leaves to discuss the future.