EC President says his main focus is prevent any long-term damage
The European Commission president used his speech at the Munich Security Conference to lament the fact that he is seeing the EU “downsize rather than extend”, claiming his main focus was to ensure the UK's exit did not cause any long-term damage.
With Britain only weeks away from triggering Article 50 and formally beginning the process of withdrawal, Mr Juncker expressed his concerns for a potential domino effect across Europe.
It is a dramatic thing to see a member state leave voluntarily. I cannot be happy about this.
Despite admitting that he spends hours each day wondering how to reduce the impact of Britain’s imminent departure, he said: “I am not hostile.
“I am very worried that many in Europe think: The British have decided to leave with a sovereign referendum, therefore we will do it.
“But it is not that simple. It is a dramatic thing to see a member state leave voluntarily. I cannot be happy about this.”
Mr Juncker said he did not believe it would be possible for Brexit negotiations to be completed within a two-year time frame.
He also stressed that during this period, Britain would have no right to complete bilateral trade deals.
More than 20,000 British laws will be changed over the coming years
Touching again on the complexity of Brexit, Mr Juncker reiterated that more than 20,000 British laws will need to be changed in the process.
Mr Juncker pressed Europeans not to “insult or look down” at Britain, instead reminding them of the pivotal role the UK has played in the continent, adding: “We owe a lot to the British people, including our freedom.”
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