Britain will soon regret voting for Brexit: Juncker

Britain will soon regret voting for Brexit: Juncker

The EU is in the fifth year of an economic recovery that has finally reached every member state, albeit to varying degrees.

"Let us make the most of the momentum, catch the wind in our sails", he said.

Almost 52 percent of Britons opted to leave the bloc during the European Union referendum in June previous year.

With close trading links to Britain and a shared land border, Ireland is widely considered the European Union member most at risk when it neighbour leaves the bloc.

Juncker was echoing French president Emmanuel Macron who campaigns against EU rules on the employment overseas of workers from low-pay countries, calling the current system a "betrayal" of European values.

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"Journalists belong in editorial offices amid a heated debate, and not in prison", he said.

"We need a European minister of economy and finance: a European minister that promotes and supports structural reforms in our member states", Juncker said.

Juncker said the meeting should be held March 30 in the city of Sibiu, a picturesque city in Transylvania that was settled centuries ago by ethnic Germans from Luxembourg, Juncker's home country.

Britain's departure is "tragic" and the British too will come to regret it but it should not prevent the rest of the Union forging ahead with integration in an ambitious way, in the knowledge that favourable conditions will not last for long.

By the end of September, the European Commission will present a set of proposals on immigration that will focus on the return of those not eligible to stay in Europe and the opening of legal pathways to migration.

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On strengthening Europe's trade program, Juncker said that, "Europe has always been an attractive partner to trade with, and now countries from all over the world are knocking on our door".

"Europe is a continent of mature democracies", Juncker said.

He told lawmakers that the European Union must work closely with the U.N.'s refugee agency to ensure that this "scandalous situation" does not continue.

"When I stood before you this time previous year, I had a somewhat easier speech to give".

He also hailed progress that had been made in the migrants crisis; over the a year ago numbers of people coming into Europe through the eastern channel through Turkey and Greece had reduced by 97%, while in August numbers coming through Italy - whom he singled out for special praise for their "perseverance and generosity" - had gone done by 81% from the same month in 2016.

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Juncker said he was "saddened" with the refusal by the ex-communist eastern states to take in refugees arriving in the bloc to help their western and southern peers.

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