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13 Sep 2017

EC President Juncker outlines his priorities at State of the Union speech

On 13 September 2017, European Commission (EC) President gave his State of the Union speech, an annual speech of the President to the European Parliament (EP). The speech is followed by a debate during which the members of Parliament review the European Commission’s achievements over the past year as well as assess its objectives for the year to come.

President Juncker presented his priorities for the year ahead and outlined his vision for how the European Union could evolve by 2025 (see full speech). He presented a Roadmap for a More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union (see Roadmap Factsheet). Mr. Juncker said: "The wind is back in Europe's sails. But we will go nowhere unless we catch that wind. (…) We should chart the direction for the future. As Mark Twain wrote, years from now we will be more disappointed by the things we did not do, than by the ones we did. Now is the time to build a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe for 2025."

Research is not explicitly mentioned in President Juncker's speech, but he referred to innovation, saying: "Secondly, I want to make our industry stronger and more competitive. [...] The new Industrial Policy Strategy we are presenting today will help our industries stay or become the world leader in innovation, digitisation and decarbonisation." He also addressed the issues of climate change, cybersecurity, and defence, amongst others.

Referring to the five scenarios of the EC's White Paper, Mr. Juncker outlined a sixth scenario, stressing that the EU needs to progress, despite Brexit, and become a "Union of Values", a more united, a stronger and a more democratic Union. For instance, he suggested merging the Presidents of the European Commission and of the European Council, installing a European Minister of Economy and Finance, and allowing transnational lists in EP elections.

The ambitious timetable Mr. Juncker outlined at the end of his speech is described in detail in the Roadmap. He announced that the Commission will present a proposal in May 2018 "for how the future EU budget can match our ambition and make sure we can deliver on everything we promise". As the UK will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019, the EC President called on Roumania, which will hold the Council Presidency at that time, to organise a Special Summit in Romania on 30 March 2019, where the remaining EU member states "come together to take the decisions needed for a more united, stronger and democratic Europe".

For more information:

President Juncker's State of the Union address 2017

European Commission - press release

European Parliament - press release

Photo: EC President Juncker, by European Parliament

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