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