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Juncker says EU will work day and night to achieve Brexit deal but warns Britain can't pick and choose

Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU will work day and night for a Brexit deal. Photo: AP/Press Association Images

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said Brussels will work “day and night” to reach a Brexit deal.

In his annual state of the union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Juncker said they owe it to EU citizens to preserve stability in the wake of the UK’s withdrawal.

At the same time, he warned the other 27 member states remain united behind the commission’s negotiating position and that the UK cannot enjoy the same “privileged position” as a member state.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his state of the union speech at the European Parliament Credit: PA

“If you leave the union you are of course no longer part of our single market – and certainly not only in parts of it,” he said.

He welcomed Theresa May’s proposal in the Chequers plan for the establishment of a free trade area between Britain and the EU.

“The United Kingdom will never be an ordinary third country for us. The United Kingdom will always be a very close neighbour and partner, in political, economic and security terms,” he said.

“The commission’s negotiators stand ready to work day and night to reach a deal.

EU will always show “loyalty and solidarity” with Ireland on the issue of its border with Northern Ireland Credit: PA

“We owe it to our citizens and our businesses to ensure the United Kingdom’s withdrawal is orderly and that there is stability afterwards. It will not be the commission that will stand in the way of this.”

Mr Juncker also said the EU will always show “loyalty and solidarity” with Ireland on the issue of its border with Northern Ireland.

“We will defend all the elements of the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

“It is Brexit that risks making the border more visible in Northern Ireland. It is not the European Union.”

Jean-Claude Juncker set out new plans for policing the EU’s borders Credit: PA

Mr Junker also unveiled plans to recruit 10,000 staff to the EU’s coastguard and asylum agency to improve border policing and speed up the deportation of illegal immigrants.

It come as EU nations argue over who should take responsibility for people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea trying to seek better lives in Europe.

“External borders must be protected more effectively,” he said.

Junker looks to improve border policing and speed up the deportation of illegal immigrants. Credit: PA

The border and coastguard staff would be able to check ID papers and stamp travel documents, detain people who are crossing the border without authorisation, and help ensure those not eligible are deported.

Many nations have expressed concern about having their borders policed by staff from other countries, even if they are European partners.

EU leaders meet in Salzburg, Austria, next week to thrash out better ways to manage the arrivals, many reaching Italy from Libya.