European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the European Union (EU) will not be “at risk” as a result of the UK’s planned exit from the bloc.
“The European Union still does not have enough union. There are splits out there and often fragmentation where we need further union that is leaving space for galloping populism,” Juncker told the European Parliament in his annual State of the Union speech in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday.
Juncker, who was outlining the commission’s plans for the first time since the UK voted to leave the EU on June 23, stressed, however, that the world’s largest politico-economic union was still a significant force and thus “the EU as such is not at risk.”
He said the next 12 months would be a crucial time for the bloc to emerge as a multinational entity that would protect and preserve the European way of life, one that would defend EU citizens at home and abroad.
Junker also proposed to double the size of an investment fund to 707 billion dollars by 2022 to mitigate the effects of a sharp fall in spending since the global financial crisis and assist development projects across the bloc.
“Investment means jobs. Today I am proposing to double the duration and firepower of our investment fund,” Juncker said in front of the more than 750 MEPs.
His original investment plan, outlined in 2015, intended to fuel the European economy by 350 billion dollars over three years.
Junker’s remarks come two days before a summit of 27 EU leaders in Bratislava, Slovakia, in which they will commence work on a roadmap for the bloc’s post-Brexit future, including a joint plan by France and Germany for a “more active” European defense policy.
The 28-member union is having a hard time trying to steady the ship after Britain’s unexpected vote to quit.