Juncker chides European Union candidate Turkey, upbeat on Western Balkans

  • Juncker chides European Union candidate Turkey, upbeat on Western Balkans

Juncker chides European Union candidate Turkey, upbeat on Western Balkans

In stark contrast to the previous two years, dominated by existential fears raised by the Greek debt crisis, migrants crossing the Mediterranean in the hundreds of thousands, and Britain's 2016 Brexit vote, officials said Juncker wants the European Union to seize a window of opportunity to strengthen its integration.

Veterans for Britain, which campaigned vigorously for a Leave vote during the 2016 referendum, says that such an arrangement would amount to "an abdication of Defence powers" and would "betray British voters" who believed that leaving the European Union would mean putting an end to its ambitions to integrate the United Kingdom into its military integration schemes.

"In recent years, the European Union has helped achieve crucial foreign policy goals - from bringing Iran to the negotiating table, to uniting in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine", Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said. "Let us make the most of the momentum, catch the wind in our sails".

With populism at bay and the economy on the upswing, Juncker's annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, is expected to strike a far more optimistic note than past year. "Brexit isn't everything. It's not the future of Europe".

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. "We will always regret this - and I think that you will regret it as well soon, if I might say", Juncker told members of the European Parliament, including Brexit architect Nigel Farage.

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 past year, he said.

"Turkey has been moving away from the European Union in leaps and bounds", he said, criticizing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government for arresting journalists and branding EU leaders "fascists and Nazis".

The 62-year-old has two years left in office as head of the EU's powerful executive arm to ensure that his legacy is not limited to the departure of one of the European Union's largest member states. "Europe can deliver for its citizens where and when it matters".

In a speech in London, Hammond will say he accepts the European Union has fears on the issue, and is looking at ways to allay them.

Meanwhile, Italy has handled an influx of migrants and refugees.

"Cyber-attacks are sometimes more risky for the stability of democracies and economies than guns and tanks", he said.