Three years of talks concerning Britain's exit from the EU meant Brussels was less able to focus on "improving citizens' lives," according to Jean-Claude Juncker. He added that he will "always regret" the UK's decision.
Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Tuesday that the European Union had done "everything in its power" to make an orderly Brexit possible.
Juncker made the comments to the European Parliament in a review of his time in office, saying Brexit had dominated his five-year mandate to the detriment of the citizens of the bloc.
In his farewell speech, Juncker urged Europe to "fight ignorant nationalism with all your strength."
New deal hinges on British approval
He told the assembly in Strasbourg that the new Brexit deal he struck with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week could only be approved by the EU once it was approved by the British Parliament.
"We need now to watch events in Westminster very closely, but it's not possible, not imaginable that this parliament would ratify the agreement before Westminster has ratified the agreement. First London, then Brussels and Strasbourg," he said.
European Council President Donald Tusk said he was discussing London's request for another extension to Brexit with the leaders of the other 27 member states and would make a decision "in the coming days."
"A no-deal Brexit will never be our decision," Tusk said, receiving applause from EU lawmakers.
Later on Tuesday, Johnson received narrow support from Parliament to start debating his Brexit deal with the EU, but he lost the vote on completing the process by Thursday evening, making an October 31 exit far less likely.
aw/rt (AFP, AP, dpa)