He told MEPs that he had been forced to discuss Brexit in more than 100 European Parliament debates during his five years in his job. “In truth, it has pained me to spend so much of this mandate dealing with Brexit, when I have thought of nothing less than how this Union could do better for its citizens – a waste of time and a waste of energy,” Mr Juncker said. “The Commission has worked tirelessly to negotiate and renegotiate an agreement with the United Kingdom, to respect the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
“We now have a new agreement, which – again – creates the legal certainty for an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.
“It took a huge amount of work to arrive at this point. I listened to Prime Minister Johnson in the same way as I listened to Prime Minister May.
“Our negotiators – mainly Michel Barnier – have once again worked around the clock. And once again, they have shown creativity and determination.”
Hailing the deal agreed between the bloc and the Prime Minister, the commission president added: “The agreement we reached with the United Kingdom’s government addresses this Parliament’s demands – all Parliaments’ demands.
He added: “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.
“In this same spirit, we have done everything in our power to prepare the European Union for all eventualities, irrespective of what is happening on the other side of the Channel.
“We need now to watch events in Westminster very closely. But it is not possible, not imaginable that this Parliament would ratify the agreement before Westminster will have ratified the agreement – first London, then Brussels and Strasbourg.”
At the same sessions at the European Parliament, European Council president Donald Tusk signalled that a further Brexit delay could still be offered by the bloc.
He told MEPs that the request for a delay made by the Prime Minister in a letter forced by backbench legislation should be treated “in all seriousness.”
Mr Tusk said: “The situation is quite complex following events over the weekend in the UK, and the British request for an extension of the Article 50 process.
“I am consulting the leaders on how to react, and will decide in the coming days.
“It is obvious that the result of these consultations will very much depend on what the British parliament decides, or doesn’t decide. We should be ready for every scenario.
“But one thing must be clear – as I said to Prime Minister Johnson on Saturday, a no-deal Brexit will never be our decision.”