EU is ready to work 'day and night' to reach Brexit deal, Juncker says

  • Brexit negotiations are heading towards a critical point with the U.K. due to officially leave the bloc next March.
  • Negotiators needs to agree on the terms of the future relationship in the coming months to ensure that the final deal is approved by all parliaments on time for the exit.
President of Commission Jean Claude Juncker gives a joint press with Slovak Prime Minister after to their bilateral meeting on April 12, 2018 at the EU Headquarters in Brussels.
John Thys | AFP | Getty Images
President of Commission Jean Claude Juncker gives a joint press with Slovak Prime Minister after to their bilateral meeting on April 12, 2018 at the EU Headquarters in Brussels.

The European Union stands ready to work "day and night" to find an agreement with the U.K. over Brexit, the President of the European Commission said Wednesday.

In its usual annual address to the European Parliament, Juncker, who leads the EU's executive body, also said that London needs to understand that it cannot keep all benefits of being a member of the EU and being outside of the bloc.

"We owe it to our citizens and our businesses to ensure the United Kingdom's withdrawal is orderly and that there is stability afterwards. It will not be the (European) Commission that will stand in the way of this, I can assure you of that," Juncker told lawmakers.

"But we also ask the British government to understand that someone who leaves the Union cannot be in the same privileged position as a member State," Juncker said, in what was his last annual speech to the Parliament, given that his mandate ends next year

Brexit uncertainties

Brexit negotiations are heading towards a critical point with the U.K. due to officially leave the bloc next March. Negotiators needs to agree on the terms of the future relationship in the coming months to ensure that the final deal is approved by all parliaments on time for the exit.

But different opinions, in particular when it comes to the Irish border, are preventing the conclusion of negotiations. This has caused frustration not only among negotiators, but also among businesses and citizens, who are unsure about their future.

Juncker said that it is not the Commission's fault that there is no solution for the Irish border yet.

"We want to find a creative solution that prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland…It is not the European Union, it is Brexit that risks making the border more visible in Northern Ireland," Juncker said.

Brexit supporters from within the U.K.'s Conservative Party are due to present Wednesday a proposal that aims to fix the Irish issue.

Meanwhile, several conservative lawmakers have also met to discuss how and when to force Prime Minister Theresa May to resign from the job.

Whatever happens in British politics, Juncker said that after March the U.K. will not become just any third country to the bloc.

"The United Kingdom will always be a very close neighbour and partner, in political, economic and security terms," he said.