Juncker: EU should scrap some national vetos on tax

Prime Minister Theresa May is scrambling to salvage her Brexit blueprint

Prime Minister Theresa May is scrambling to salvage her Brexit blueprint

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday unveiled new plans to beef up the EU's coast guard and asylum agency to better police Europe's outside borders and speed the deportation of unauthorized migrants.

"We respect the British decision to leave our Union, even though we continue to regret it deeply", he said in his speech to the EU parliament in Strasbourg.

He said "someone who leaves" the European Union, "cannot be in the same privileged position" as it once was while a fully-fledged member.

Juncker made no direct comment on Trump or USA policy but aides said the geopolitical situation he spoke of was a US retreat into what Juncker described elsewhere in the speech as "selfish unilateralism".

But as negotiators struggle to overcome problems about the future of the land border on the island of Ireland, Juncker also pledged that Britain would remain a very close partner.

But he pointed that it was Brexit, and "not the EU" making the border an issue.

He said Europe will "find a solution to avoid hard border in Ireland and defend all elements of the Good Friday Agreement".

The EU has highlighted in recent weeks a willingness to work closely with Britain after Brexit, to help Prime Minister Theresa May convince her divided cabinet and parliament to accept Brexit terms, including the Irish fix. But Juncker made clear key demands by the bloc held firm.

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers a speech during a debate on The State of the European Union at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, September 12, 2018.

Juncker wants to ratify the EU-Japan free trade deal by next March.

"And it may not be Chequer's, but Chequers will form a part of that final deal".

While the European Union opposes May's call for Britain to stay in a free trade zone with the European Union for goods only, Juncker said the two sides should seek a broad free-trade deal.

"I believe we should develop the numerous European-African trade agreements into a continent-to-continent free trade agreement, as an economic partnership between equals".

In a sign that Brussels remains open to a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK outside the single market, Mr Juncker added that "the United Kingdom will never be an ordinary third country for us".

And while he laid into the direction the European Union is going, he was actually pretty positive on the likelihood of a Brexit deal.

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