Juncker urges EU members to seize Brexit chance to forge tighter union

2017-09-14 02:27:51 GMT2017-09-14 10:27:51(Beijing Time) Agencies

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker called on EU governments on Wednesday to seize a window of opportunity from Brexit and economic growth to forge a tighter union built around the euro currency and a pivotal role in global trade.

In his annual State of the European Union speech, Juncker sketched out a vision of a post-2019 EU where some 30 countries would form a euro zone, with an EU finance minister running key budgets to help states in trouble.

Tax and welfare standards would converge and Europe, rather than the US, would be the center of a free-trading world.

The Commission president - effectively the EU's chief executive - stressed his wish to heal divisions between eastern and western, poorer and richer member states; he sees that as vital to countering a drive, including by founding powers France and Germany, to set up new structures within the bloc that would exclude some ex-communist members.

"The wind is back in Europe's sails," Junker told the European Parliament, citing faster economic growth and the easing of a succession of crises - Greek debts, refugee crowds, Britain's exit - that seemed to threaten the EU's survival.

"Now we have a window of opportunity, but it will not stay open for ever," he said, emphasizing a need to move on from and even profit from the ­British vote to leave the bloc come 2019.

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