EU chief sees coun­tries mov­ing past eco­nomic woes, Brexit blues.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY LORNE COOK AND VANESSA GERA

BRUS­SELS | The Euro­pean Union is in a health­ier eco­nomic state than it’s been for more than a decade and is ready to move on from Brexit, the bloc’s top of­fi­cial said Wed­nes­day.

Ad­dress­ing law­mak­ers at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU is “bounc­ing back” af­ter a tough decade that’s seen much of the 28-coun­try mired in an eco­nomic cri­sis and Bri­tain vote to leave.

“The wind is back in Europe’s sail,” he said in an up­beat hour-long an­nual “State of the Euro­pean Union” ad­dress in Stras­bourg, France.

Mr. Juncker, whose Com­mis­sion pro­poses EU leg­is­la­tion and po­lices the bloc’s laws, said the EU is into its fifth year of eco­nomic re­cov­ery, with un­em­ploy­ment at a nine-year low.

“Let us make the most of the mo­men­tum, catch the wind in our sails,” he said. “Europe can de­liver for its cit­i­zens where and when it mat­ters.”

Since the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis first bared its teeth a decade ago, the EU project has been dealt a series of blows, most no­tably with Bri­tain’s de­ci­sion last year to leave. It’s also had to con­tend with a series of crises af­flict­ing the coun­tries — cur­rently 19 — that use the euro as their cur­rency. How­ever, the eu­ro­zone cri­sis ap­pears to have abated some­what and Greece is set to end its bailout era next sum­mer.

With Bri­tain due to leave the EU in March 2019, Mr. Juncker vowed that the bloc would take on no new mem­bers in the short-term, and he dealt a blow to Tur­key’s hopes of join­ing Europe’s rich club any­time soon.

“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.”

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The EU “will move for­ward once Bri­tain leaves,” Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker (left) said. “Brexit is not ev­ery­thing. It’s not the fu­ture of Europe.”

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