The head of the European Union’s executive body warned Wednesday that the alliance faces unprecedented division over a series of policy disputes highlighted by the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the bloc in June.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker fretted that the U.K.’s separation is only one sign of disagreement that could pull the bloc’s remaining 27 members apart.
“Never before have I seen such little common ground between our member states, so few areas where they agree to work together,” Juncker said in his annual state of the union address.
He named problems including high unemployment, public debt, “the huge challenge of integrating refugees” and threats to security stemming from a spate of recent terror attacks.
Juncker said the U.K. could not expect “a la carte” access to the unrestricted single market trade zone without accepting the free movement of people. Immigration was a major reason that led a majority of Britons to vote for a Brexit — exit from the EU.
Reports of hate crimes have risen in the U.K. since the June 23 Brexit referendum. There has been a spike in attacks against Polish nationals, and six teenage boys were recently arrested for the death of a Polish man who died after he was attacked in the southern town of Harlow in Essex county. The Polish government has launched its own investigation into the death.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Jane Onyanga-Omara