European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday voiced hope that Britain will one day return to the EU fold despite voting to leave.
"I do not like Brexit because I would like to be in the same boat as the British. The day will come when the British will re-enter the boat, I hope," Juncker said after a meeting of the remaining 27 EU leaders on the bloc's post-Brexit future.
Juncker, who says he regrets but respects Britain's decision, is a committed European who favours closer EU integration, if necessary allowing some member states to take the lead while the others catch up later if they wish.
Others, notably newer member states in eastern Europe such as Poland and Hungary, oppose this "multi-speed" approach for fear of being left behind.
Juncker told a press conference after the meeting of the 27 leaders that Brexit was not the end of the European Union and had in fact given it fresh purpose.
"I had the impression the Brexit issue is encouraging the others to continue... integration is (gaining) a larger adherence of the population," he said.
"I regret Brexit but it is not the end."