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Thursday December 14th, 2017 7:50PM

The Latest: EU chief says his job should go in streamlining

By The Associated Press
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BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the "State of the European Union" address by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (all times local):

12:10 p.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is calling for a major shake-up of European Union's institutions that could involve his job becoming redundant.

Juncker said his post at the EU's executive body should be merged with that of European Council President Donald Tusk, who chairs EU leaders' summits and acts on their behalf.

Juncker told EU lawmakers that "Europe would be easier to understand if one captain was steering the ship."

Any such move would require changes to the EU's painstakingly-drafted rule book, the Treaty of Lisbon, and could prove difficult to push through as a unanimous vote would be required.

Juncker also called for the bloc's decision making processes to be changed when it comes to foreign policy, moving from unanimity to a qualified majority vote, which usually means a two-thirds majority. He said no treaty change would be required to do that.

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11:10 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has taken a poke at President Donald Trump as he outlined Europe's leading role in the fight against climate change.

Speaking to the European Parliament, Juncker recalled how the same assembly last year ratified the Paris climate change accord, which Trump has since said the United States will abandon.

Echoing Trump's successful campaign slogan, Juncker told lawmakers: "Set against the collapse of ambition in the United States, Europe will ensure we make our planet great again. It is the shared heritage of all of humanity."

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10:25 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wants European Union leaders to meet in Romania the day after Britain leaves in 2019 to chart the bloc's way forward as 27 member states.

Juncker called for the leaders to meet in the city of Sibiu, some 280 kilometers (175 miles) northwest of the capital Bucharest, on March 30, 2019.

Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc the day before.

Juncker vowed that the EU "will move forward once Britain leaves," saying that "Brexit is not everything. It's not the future of Europe."

To cheering British lawmakers celebrating the country's departure, Juncker said: "I think you will regret it quite soon."

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10:10 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says he cannot accept that consumers in Central and Eastern Europe are being sold poorer-quality food than elsewhere in the bloc under the same labels.

In a speech to lawmakers at the European Parliament, Juncker said the practice is illegal already but that the bloc will now do more to enforce food quality across the bloc.

Authorities and consumers in Hungary, Slovakia and elsewhere in the region have expressed frustration that food sold by international brands in their countries often have poorer ingredients from those sold elsewhere.

Juncker's pledge to tackle the problem is seen as a way of trying to improve the sometimes strained ties between the Commission and parts of Central Europe.

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9:55 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says Turkey is distancing itself from the European Union and will not become a member of the bloc in the "foreseeable future."

Juncker said Turkey has for some time been "moving away from the European Union in leaps and bounds."

He criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the government in Ankara for arresting journalists and calling EU leaders "fascists and Nazis."

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

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9:50 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says he will propose the establishment of a pan-European cybersecurity agency as online attacks around the world mount.

Juncker said "cyberattacks are sometimes more dangerous for the stability of democracies and economies than guns and tanks"

He told EU lawmakers that they "know no borders and they spare nobody."

Juncker said his executive Commission would propose that the 28-nation bloc set up a cybersecurity agency and develop more tools to better defend against attacks.

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9:40 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says "Europe has got a collective responsibility" to help improve migrant detention conditions in Libya.

Juncker told EU lawmakers that the European Union must work closely with the UN's refugee agency to ensure that this "scandalous situation" does not continue.

The EU has been criticized over Libya policies aimed at stopping people from fleeing Africa for Italy by sea but which see many migrants trapped in dangerous and squalid centers in the conflict-torn country.

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9:30 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the European Union is "bouncing back" after a tough decade that's seen much of the 28-country mired in an economic crisis and Britain vote to leave.

In an annual "State of the European Union" address, Juncker told EU lawmakers Wednesday that "the wind is back in Europe's sails."

Juncker, whose Commission proposes EU legislation and polices the bloc's laws, said the EU is into its fifth year of economic recovery, with unemployment at a nine-year low.

He said "Europe can deliver for its citizens where and when it matters," even as nations remain divided over how best to manage the EU's refugee emergency.

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