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12 Sep 2018

EC President Juncker stresses European sovereignty at state-of-the-Union address at EP

EC President Juncker addressing the European Parliament (photo: EC)

This morning, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave his annual state-of-the-Union address to the European Parliament. In this year's speech entitled "The Hour of European Sovereignty", Mr. Juncker stressed the need for Europe to become more sovereign so as to be able to play a role in shaping global affairs. The speech was accompanied by the adoption of 18 concrete initiatives by the European Commission on migration and border reform, security, Africa and external investment, Common Foreign and Security Policy, seasonal clock changes and anti-money laundering. These proposals are intended to help deliver results by the time of the Sibiu Summit in May 2019 and ahead of the 2019 European elections.

Outlining the perspective for the EU's future, Mr. Juncker stressed, amongst other issues, the importance of an agreement in principle on the EU budget after 2020 before the summit of the EU Heads of State or Government in Sibiu, Romania, on 9 May 2019. One of the EC President's arguments for this was that "if we want to give our researchers and start-ups more opportunities, and prevent funding gaps costing jobs, we have to decide before the elections"; research and innovation were not addressed elsewhere in the speech.

Talking about the Brexit negotiations, Mr. Juncker stressed that he sees "a strong need for the Union for leadership". Reiterating that he still regretted the UK's decision to leave the Union, the President pointed out that "someone who leaves the Union cannot be in the same privileged position as a Member State". He also stressed that the EC, the EP and all other Member States would will always show loyalty and solidarity with Ireland when it comes to the Irish border, so a hard border in Northern Ireland would need to be prevented, even though he stated that "It is not the European Union, it is Brexit that risks making the border more visible in Northern Ireland". Having said that, Mr. Juncker also stressed that "the United Kingdom will never be an ordinary third country for us. The United Kingdom will always be a very close neighbour and partner, in political, economic and security terms." He sees a free trade area between the EU and the UK as a starting point for the ambitious new partnership between the EU and the UK which the UK government is aiming at.     

For more information:

EC - press release

State of the Union 2018: The Hour of European Sovereignty (full text of speech, check against delivery)

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