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1st Mar 2024

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The Commission president in his own words

  • It was the third time the president of the commission has held his annual address to MEPs (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday morning (13 September) delivered the State of the European Union speech, also known as Soteu, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

It was the third time Juncker has held his annual address to MEPs.

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In the Soteu, the commission president reviewed his institution's achievements over the past year, presented the priorities for the year ahead, set out how the commission will address the most pressing challenges the EU is facing, and sometimes shared his personal views on the future of Europe.

The speech is followed by a plenary debate with MEPs, kick starting the dialogue between the parliament and the Council of the EU for preparing the commission's work programme for the following year.

Although they may seem dull, especially to people outside the EU bubble, Soteu speeches are one of the very few occasions in which the commission's president publicly speaks about what he and his fellow commissioners have done so far, and shares his vision for the coming months.

It's the closest thing the EU has to a general policy speech by a national chief of government.

With this in mind, it is interesting to take a closer look at its language and the words that are used, as they show which concepts and issues have marked a specific period, and what the EU is - and will be - focusing on.

1 – The twenty most used words in all Soteu speeches

These are the 20 most used words across all seven Soteu speeches, along with their frequency.

2 – The ten most frequently used words in each Soteu

This chart depicts the number of times the most frequent words have been said in all Soteu addresses between 2010 and 2017. The colour of the circles reflects the data, with red indicating a higher number of mentions.

3 – Comparing speeches by the frequency of all words

The following wordcloud compares the frequency of words across speeches (recurring terms have been excluded), showing the words that are found most frequently in each of the speeches.

4 – Comparing speeches by sentiment

These wordclouds show the balance between positively and negatively connoted words used in Soteu speeches.

The cloud on the left refers to the 2017 Juncker Soteu speech, compared to all Soteu speeches (2017 included), on the right

These graphs and the code are distributed under a Creative Commons license (BY). You can use and adapt all of the above as long you acknowledge the source: Giorgio Comai/OBC Transeuropa/#edjnet.

Author bio

The European Data Journalism Network (EDJNet) is a new platform for data-driven news on European affairs brought to you in up to 12 languages by a consortium of media and data journalists from all over Europe, which included EUobserver.

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