European Union needs Bulgaria, Romania in Schengen area 'immediately' - Juncker

A flotilla of small boars surrounded the ship as it entered the harbour. Pic MoD

A flotilla of small boars surrounded the ship as it entered the harbour. Pic MoD

At the same time, he is likely to enlarge on proposals for the EU to take a tougher line with China over allegations of cut-price dumping and for it to scrutinise more closely future investments in strategic European assets by state-owned firms.

Juncker's annual address seeks to provide a broad reflection on the future path of the European Union, the need for which has been strengthened following the United Kingdom's exit from the 27-nation bloc.

Bulgaria and Romania should become members of the European Union's borderless Schengen area as soon as possible for the bloc to be able to step up protection of its external borders, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday.

And Mr Verhofstadt said of progress in the Brexit talks: "At the moment, everyone can see that isn't the case".

"Nonetheless we have to respect the will of the British people, but we will have to make progress, we will move on, because Brexit isn't everything - it's not the future of Europe".

"Both sides settled on the date after discussions between senior officials in recognition that more time for consultation would give negotiators the flexibility to make progress in the September round", he said.

Defense is the UK's most valuable card in Brexit negotiations and London hopes its contribution in the area will yield favorable trade terms from the European Union in return.

Turkey's own long-stalled membership bid was ruled out "for the forseeable future" as a result of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown following a coup attempt a year ago, he said.

Keeping Britain "locked into [the] structures, policies and financial schemes of the new EU Defence Union" means passing "increasing amounts of control to the EU after 2017", in Veterans for Britain's estimation.

The EU also remains deeply divided by the migration crisis, with a fresh spike in arrivals in Italy from Libya adding to rifts over how to handle the biggest influx of refugees and migrants since World War II. "Europe was battered and bruised by something that shocked our very foundation", Juncker said in his opening remarks. After Japan on the trade front, Australia, New Zealand and South America are next in Brussels' sights for rapid new agreements.

"The European Commission can not take the credit for this alone", he added.

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