State of the EU-nion

Jean-Claude Juncker said he did not want his record to be defined by Britain’s break-up with the EU

"Workers should earn the same pay for the same work in the same place", Juncker said, adding he would seek to establish an EU Labour Agency "for ensuring fairness in our single market".

To implement the measure, EU politicians said country markers would have to be attached to EU carbon allowances - creating a potential divergence in prices between EU and British permits.

He insisted it was "high time" that Romania and Bulgaria were included in the passport-free travel area and Croatia should follow soon.

"In Europe, the law is safeguarded by an independent judiciary".

While pointedly demanding that European Union governments respect European Union law and court judgements - a barb aimed mainly at ex-communist states in the east like Poland and Hungary - Juncker stressed that the poorer east must not be treated as second class.

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. "That rules out European Union membership for Turkey in the foreseeable future".

"Compromises are an art, a way of bridging our differences..."

"This arrangement applies to people who are already taking their state pension and will also apply for those who are yet to retire".

The commission chief also reached out to central and eastern European member states amid concerns that differences on migration, rules for posted workers and democratic worries in Hungary and Poland are renewing an east-west divide within the bloc.

"We don't need a separate euro zone budget, we need a strong euro zone budget line within the existing European Union budget". I am also not fond of the idea of having a separate euro area parliament.

Moreover, Juncker suggested that states that are set to join the Schengen zone, are also "duty bound" to join the eurozone as well.

Products of Ireland's agri-food sector are among the EU's most exposed to Brexit, the finance ministry's research showed, led by cereals, fruit and vegetables, nearly 90 per cent of which are exported to the UK.

Juncker said foreign policy decisions should not be taken by unanimity, but instead by qualified majority voting, to make decision-making quicker.

"In the field of defence, more efforts are required..." Europe is open to trade but there must be reciprocity. But he said there had to be reciprocity in trade deals: "We have to get as much as much as we give".

"We are not naive free traders".

Addressing unease in Europe about such deals, Juncker stressed their power to create jobs and impose European Union standards in areas such as the environment on trading partners. "I would like these trade agreements to be completed by the end of our mandate".

"Every million (euro) of exports that we have equals 14,000 extra jobs in Europe".

The research also found that although Irish trade has become far less reliant on its nearest neighbour since the early 1970's, when the United Kingdom accounted for over 50 per cent of total exports, some big sectors have increased their share of exports. "I suggest that we prepare for this moment well, amongst the 27 and within the European Union institutions", he said.

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