Jean-Claude Juncker.jpg
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker holds a joint news conference with European Council President Donald Tusk (not pictured) after the European Summit in Brussels, Belgium, 29 June 2016.
Photograph: EPA/JULIEN WARNAND

Britain's decision to leave the European Union was a seismic event, a shock so profound that its backers feel they have no choice but to embark on a mission to reinvent the bloc.

Official after official has laid out his or her vision of what the EU's post-Brexit path should be, with discussions expected to culminate Friday at an informal EU summit in Bratislava.

On Wednesday, it was the turn of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the EU's longest-serving politicians and a fervent Europhile. He used his annual state of the union speech to lay out the course that he thinks the bloc should chart.

"What will [our children] inherit from us? A union that unravels in disunity? A union that has forgotten its past and has no vision for the future?" he asked during a speech at the European Parliament. "Our children deserve better."

"They deserve a Europe that preserves their way of life. They deserve a Europe that empowers and defends them. They deserve a Europe that protects," he added. "History will not remember us, but it will remember our mistakes. Let's not make mistakes that would put an end to the European dream."

Juncker's answer to the Brexit upheaval is, unsurprisingly, more Europe.

"I told you [one year ago] that there is not enough Europe in this union. And that there is not enough union in this union ... This assessment remains true despite the progress made," he said. "The EU is currently not in top form."

On Wednesday, Juncker laid out a laundry list of new measures that he believes the bloc should pursue, including steps to help it integrate further.

Most controversial is likely to be his call for more military cooperation, including through common military assets and a single headquarters for EU civilian and military missions.

Britain had long been averse to military integration. EU heavyweights Germany and France have now come out in favour of the cause, but some are still sceptical.

"I don't think that citizens will feel safer if the EU acts like a yobbish bloke," far-left EU parliamentarian Gabi Zimmer said. "I think many citizens instead have the creeping feeling that they will be pulled much faster into military conflicts."

Eurosceptics, meanwhile, take issue with the very idea that the lesson to draw out of the Brexit vote should be more measures to reinforce the EU.

"The more Europe you build, the more detached our citizens feel," Britain's Syed Kamall, who leads the faction of the European Conservatives and Reformists in the European Parliament, told Juncker during Wednesday's debate.

One thing many European politicians agree on, however, is that the EU has to be more convincing in tackling the issues that are of most concern to its citizens.

"Europe has to be better explained," Juncker said.

Germany's Manfred Weber also called on EU governments to stop their infighting, which he said sometimes resembles more "kindergarten than serious politics."

"[They] have to finally achieve common answers to the challenges of our times. Then people would be convinced," he said.

Latest news

Serbia's EU negotiator says minority rights neglected

The head of the Serbia's European Union accession negotiation team, Tanja Miscevic, said in Novi Sad on Wednesday that minority rights had been neglected for many years and added that positive results in that regard cannot be achieved over night, the Beta news agency has reported. 

Scientists: Nearby star's 7 rocky planets are "best bet" for life

New analysis of telescope data shows a dwarf star just 40 light years from Earth has at least seven apparently rocky planets with potential to harbour water, an international team of scientists announced Wednesday.

Croatian PM receives EIB Vice-President

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met on Wednesday with European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Dario Scannapieco for talks on the bank's contribution to a new investment cycle in Croatia and its support to the Croatian government to implement key projects, a press release from the government's office said.

Bomb explodes outside police officer's home in Northern Ireland

A bomb exploded outside a police officer's home in Northern Ireland on Wednesday but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Denmark to charge man with blasphemy over burning Koran

Danish prosecutors said Wednesday they have opened a rare blasphemy case against a man who videotaped himself burning a copy of the Koran.

South Africa to raise taxes for the wealthiest

South Africa will raise the income tax rate for the country's wealthiest to 45 per cent from 41 per cent, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced Wednesday.

Reformist Macron wins support of key centrist leader for French vote

France's reformist presidential hopeful, Emmanuel Macron, got a boost on Wednesday when he picked up the support of a party leader whose centrist constituency played a pivotal role in the last two presidential elections.

Amnesty International warns of nationalist rhetoric and hate speech in Croatia

Croatia continues to have problems with discrimination against ethnic minorities and with freedom of the media, while heightened nationalist rhetoric and hate speech during election time contributed to growing ethnic intolerance and insecurity in the country, global human rights watchdog Amnesty International said in its annual report on the state of human rights in the world in 2016/2017.

Official assigned to Wilders' security team held by Dutch police

A security official assigned to protect Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders is being held by police on suspicion of passing along classified information about the lawmaker to a Dutch-Moroccan crime gang.

100th anniversary of rescuing starving children marked

A special ceremony was held in Zagreb's Croatian National Theatre on Wednesday to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest humanitarian undertakings in the history of the Croatian people which saved children in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from famine in the last two years of World War I.

Italy's 'Red Thing' could make impact in election debut, polls show

Two polls conducted for RAI public broadcaster released Wednesday showed a new entity that split from Italy's ruling Democratic Party

Council: Nixing grants to "Novosti" would cause far-reaching implications

The Council for National Minorities, a state-level autonomous umbrella organisation for all ethnic minorities in Croatia, has stated that the cancellation of financial grants to the "Novosti", a newspaper of the ethnic Serb minority, would produce far-reaching implications and stir criticism for reduction of free speech and of freedom of expression of the most numerous ethnic minority.