EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER: BREXIT HAS BEEN A ‘WASTE OF TIME AND ENERGY’




Selin ATAY-TDO-European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday told MEPs that dealing with Brexit during his five-year mandate was a "waste of time and energy."

Speaking before European lawmakers in the institution's plenary session in Strasbourg for the last time before his successor Ursula von der Leyen takes over, Juncker said he regretted he had spent "much of his mandate" trying to solve the Brexit issue.

Three years of talks concerning Britain's exit from the EU meant Brussels was less able to focus on "improving citizens' lives," according to Jean-Claude Juncker.

Juncker added that he will "always regret" the UK's decision. “I will always regret the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the Union. But at least we can look ourselves in the eye and say that we have done all in our power to make sure that this departure is orderly,” he said. 

Juncker said the new agreement creates the legal certainty for an orderly withdrawal of Britain from the EU. 

European Council President Donald Tusk, who also delivered his last speech in the plenary before he steps down in December, was in a less somber mood, describing the situation in the U.K. as "quite complex." He said he is now consulting member state leaders on the way forward but this "very much depends on what the [U.K.] parliament decides or doesn’t decide."

“We have to be ready for any scenario. As I told British Prime Minister (Boris) Johnson, aA no-deal Brexit will never be our decision," Tusk said, prompting MEPs to applaud.

The EU and the U.K. agreed on a new Brexit deal on Friday. But on Saturday, the U.K. parliament voted in favor of asking a further delay to the October 31 Brexit deadline anyway, and have yet to vote on whether they approve of the deal.