Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Juncker gives first State of the Union speech

  • Juncker will report on his achievement and set out his vision. (Photo: European Parliament)

Jean-Claude Juncker is one of the most seasoned EU players, but this Wednesday (9 September) is a first for him.

Almost a year after taking the position of president of the EU Commission, he is to give his first State of the European Union address to the European Parliament.

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The formal address was introduced by Juncker's predecessor, Jose Manuel Barroso, in 2010. Modelled on the US president's annual State of the Union address to the Congress, the speech was designed to enhance the EU Commission president's profile.

But this year's SOTEU, as it is known in European circles, will have a special flavour.

This is the first State of the Union since the EU Commission president is selected by the so-called Spitzenkandidat system.

In last year's European election, the main European political parties had a candidate for the position and Juncker became the Commission boss because his centre-right EPP party is the strongest group in the EU Parliament.

Although the EPP does not have a majority in the Parliament, Juncker will be the first Commission president to address MEPs both as leader of an EU institution and as an expression of the Parliament's increased role in decision-making.

Juncker, who said his Commission would be more political than the previous colleges, is expected to give a highly political speech.

The main issue addressed will be the current migration crisis Europe is facing. 


Juncker will announce new proposals for more redistribution of asylum seekers between member states. He is expected in particular to detail plans to relocate 160,000 people according to a mandatory system of quotas.

These proposals have already been rejected by several member states and will certainly stir a strong debate among MEPs after his speech.

Juncker will also report to the MEPs about the Commission's ten priorities he presented when he took office and he will set out his vision for the Commission Work Programme for 2016.

Both the 2015 achievement and 2016 program will be debated between Juncker and the MEPs.

Some flagship Commission projects such as the Juncker investment plan, the transatlantic free-trade agreement, and the digital and climate policies have led to vigorous talks between MEPs and the Commission.

Juncker also pledged to produce less but better legislation during his five-year mandate and this put him at odds with some MEPs who protested against the shelving of some 80 pieces of legislation they had been working on.

Opinion

Juncker's environment omissions betray true priorities

What the European Commission president said in his State of the Union address is not really what was written in his text. This shows that climate and environment are still not truly on his mind.

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