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EU wants HQ for combined army to combat cost of Brexit

Jean-Claude Juncker's plans could also involve an EU defence fund to develop combine military assets. Credit: Reuters

The European Union's chief executive has called for a joint military headquarters and greater defence cooperation between nations as he outlined plans to combat the costly loss of Britain from the European Union.

Analysts believe Brexit could reduce the EU's military capacity by a quarter as Europe's biggest spending power departs the bloc, unless action is taken to change current defence arrangements.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said no single EU government had a military big enough to deal with security threats on Europe's doorstep as he bid to revive long-running efforts to reduce the bloc's reliance on the United States.

In his annual speech to the European Parliament, Mr Juncker said: "We must have a European headquarters and so we should work towards a common military force. This should be to complement NATO."

He added: "From an economic point of view, bringing together our military resources could be clearly justified. The lack of cooperation is something that is costing Europe 20 to 100 billion euros (£17bn-£85bn) a year."

Officials later stressed it was not a call for an EU army.

Juncker: We respect and regret Brexit but EU is not at risk

Jean-Claude Juncker won applause in the Strasbourg chamber for his stance on Brexit. Credit: APTN

The European Union "respects and regrets" Britain's decision to leave but is not at risk from Brexit, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said in a keynote speech.

Juncker used his annual State of the Union speech to reject claims Britain's exit signalled the start of a breakdown of the European political project.

"Allow me to state here and today that we respect and at the same time regret the UK decision but the European Union as such is not at risk," he said.

Juncker urged Britain to begin its exit "as quickly as possible".

He insisted relations with the UK "must remain on a friendly basis" throughout negotiations but warned Theresa May's government it couldn't pick or choose favourable elements of the EU, saying: "There can be no 'a la carte' access to the single market."

Juncker's speech also referenced the recent attack on a Polish man in Harlow as he addressed hate across the continent, saying: "Europe can never accept Polish workers being harassed, beaten up or even murdered in the streets of Essex."

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EU Commission President congratulates Theresa May

Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the EU Commission, has offered Theresa May his "warmest congratulations" on becoming prime minister of the UK.

In a note published on Twitter, Juncker wished her success in forming a new government, but mentioned the need to address the "new situation" following the UK's vote to leave the EU.

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Juncker criticises Johnson and Farage for quitting

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Credit: Reuters

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has accused Brexit campaigners Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage of a lack of patriotism in quitting before EU withdrawal negotiations begin.

"Yesterday's shining heroes of Brexit have become the sorrowful heroes of today," Mr Juncker told the European Parliament.

"They are retro-nationalists, not patriots. Patriots don't abandon the ship when the going gets tough. They stay on board."

Mr Juncker maintained that the EU will not negotiate any terms for Britain's departure from the EU until a new prime minister formally triggers the withdrawal process.

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Cameron's EU rival Juncker delivers another blow to PM

Prime Minister David Cameron has received another blow in his battle with Europe over immigration rules, this time from the man he attempted - in vain - to deny gaining power in the European Commission.

Incoming EC president Jean-Claude Juncker labelled Cameron's bid to change the rules on freedom of movement in Europe as "irresponsible", echoing the stance of his predecessor José Manuel Barroso.

Cameron will tomorrow meet with the leaders of the other 27 nations in the European Union but is expected to face near complete opposition to his proposals to change one of the union's founding principles.

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