“On March 29, 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. It will be a moment both sad and tragic. We will always regret it and you will regret it soon,” Juncker said Wednesday in his annual state of the union address before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
“Nonetheless we have to respect the will of the British people, but we will have to make progress, we will move on, because Brexit isn’t everything – it’s not the future of Europe,” he added.
During his defiant speech, Juncker demanded the bloc’s enlargement to the east and the adoption of the euro by every EU country.
The head of the European Commission, a former prime minister of Luxembourg, said he believed that the EU would continue to enlarge after Brexit and “will have more than 27 member states.”
The European Commission is one of the main institutions of the EU that is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the 28-member bloc.
Juncker called for an EU summit in the Romanian city of Sibiu on March 30, 2019, the day Britain would officially depart from the bloc.
Last month, Juncker emphasized that Britain must first agree with its divorce terms before any discussions begin on post-Brexit ties.
Juncker also said there has to be “sufficient progress” in negotiations over the rights of EU citizens, Northern Ireland’s border and the EU (Withdrawal) Bill before any post-Brexit arrangements.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has openly stated that she would take the country out of the EU even if she fails to strike a deal with the bloc.
The EU Bill, a piece of legislation that would end the United Kingdom’s membership in the EU, passed its first parliamentary hurdle on Monday.
Nearly 52 percent of Britons opted to leave the bloc during the EU referendum in June last year. The United Kingdom formally triggered the Brexit process on March 29 and divorce negotiations officially began on June 19.