Juncker urges European Union to strike trade deals with Australia, NZ

Customs at the English port of Dover at the height of the holiday season last year

In a bid to enhance the EU's global role, Juncker said he would ask governments for the authority to begin market-opening negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. He called for an EU summit in the once German-speaking Transylvanian city of Sibiu on March 30, 2019, the first day Britain will no longer be in the Union.

This comes on the heels of a provisional free-trade accord with Japan and a week before a European deal with Canada enters into force.

With populism at bay and the economy on the upswing, Juncker's annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, is expected to strike a far more optimistic note than past year.

Ankara's attitude, Juncker said, "rules out European Union membership for Turkey in the foreseeable future".

Jean-Claude Juncker was speaking two days before European Union finance ministers meet to discuss plans to introduce higher taxes on digital multinationals like Google and Amazon, which stand accused of paying too little tax in Europe.

He will also most certainly warn that the situation in Turkey, with massive amounts of arrests after last year's failed coup, is bringing the country's European Union accession process into question. Europe had to pursue a credible enlargement project to the countries of the Western Balkans, and there is a possibility of more countries joining the Union in the future, he added not signaling any timelines. "But we need to prevent other states from taking advantage of our openness in order to push through their industrial policy interests", Zypries added.

Juncker is expected to send a warning to Poland and Hungary over the situation of the rule of law, but may not say whether the commission will trigger Article 7 to open a sanction procedure against Poland.

"Let us make the most of the momentum, catch the wind in our sails", he said.

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The government has promised concerned lawmakers that ministers would not use the wide-ranging powers to make "substantive changes" to law.

Juncker urged Europe to take the lead on climate issues after the "collapse of ambition in the United States", which Donald Trump has pulled out of the Paris climate agreement.

Turkey is taking "giant steps" away from Europe and it is entirely the fault of the "Erdoğan system", European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday (29 August) in his strongest comments to date against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's rule.

"Italy is saving Europe's honor in the Mediterranean", Juncker said.

"Sometimes I get the feeling Turkey is intentionally placing these roadblocks so that it can blame Europe for any breakdown in accession talks", he said.

He insisted it was "high time" that Romania and Bulgaria were included in the passport-free travel area and Croatia should follow soon.

My cousin Laura, in London, says most leave voters are baby boomers over 50, who then voted in a conservative government.

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