Tuesday

25th Sep 2018

Juncker: EU 'not at risk' of disintegration

  • Juncker warned of "never before seen fragmentation" within the EU (Photo: European Parliament)

The EU is “not at risk” of disintegration after the Brexit vote, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in a major policy speech on Wednesday (14 September) in Strasbourg.

But he warned that the EU is, to some extent, facing an existential crisis.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“Never before have I seen such little common ground between our member states, so few areas where they agree to work together,” Juncker told MEPs in his annual state of the union address.

“Never before have I seen so much fragmentation,” he said.

Juncker warned that the fragmentation between leaves room for populism. “Populism doesn’t solve problems, it creates them,” he said, adding that the commission does not want to get rid of nation states.

“Never before have I seen national governments so weakened by the forces of populism and paralysed by the risk of defeat in the next elections,” he said.

He acknowledged that EU institutions and member states are out of sync.

“There is almost no intersection between the EU and its national capitals anymore,” he added, while calling on each of the 27 EU leaders to think of three reasons why the EU is needed before they meet for an informal summit in Bratislava on Friday.

He also called on leaders to defend the decisions they take in Brussels at home, and not blame the EU for them.

“We need to speak in a committed way about Europe in national parliaments too, not only here,” he said.

Brexit

Juncker urged the UK once again to trigger the exit talks as quickly as possible, but warned that access to the single market is conditionned to allowing free movement of people and goods.

"We respect and at the same time regret the UK decision, but the European Union as such is not at risk," Juncker told MEPs.

“There can be no single market a la carte,” he said.

In his second state of the union speech, Juncker, referring to his own speech from a year ago, said: “The EU still doesn’t have enough union in it.”

EU army

Juncker called for a common European military force that would cooperate with Nato.

“It doesn’t mean less transatlantic cooperation,” Juncker said, adding that a defense fund would be proposed by the end of the year to encourage innovation in the European defense industry.

Speaking from notes and starting in German, Juncker called for an EU foreign minister and a strategy for Syria. He also argued the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, should have a seat at the table in negotiations on Syria’s future.

He announced an investment plan, for Africa which is to raise € 44 billion to tackle root causes of migration.

Borders

“The next 12 months are decisive if we want to reunite our union, if we want to overcome division between east and west", warned Juncker in his address.

Talking about the refugee crisis, and referring to reluctant member states, which have not taken in migrants, he said “solidarity must be given voluntarily, it must come from the heart, it cannot be forced.”

He called on the Slovak presidency of the EU to bridge the gap between member states which are participating in relocation and resettlement of refugees and which are not.

He pledged 200 border guards and 50 vehicles to Bulgaria to help protect the EU’s external border.

Juncker also said the commission will propose by November a European information system, that will automatically determine who should be allowed to travel into Europe before they leave home.

Investments

He also announced the doubling of an earlier investment plan to stimulate growth and job creation.

The €315 billion investment plan has raised €116 billion and 200,000 firms got loans. The fund should be beefed up to €500 billion by 2020 and € 630 billion by 2022, he said.

In a surprise move, he called for free public internet in all European cities by 2020, and promised a new proposal on roaming next week, after he withdrew an earlier proposal by the commission only last week.

Juncker also called for a more social Europe. In that context he defended the commission’s proposal on posted workers, in essence securing equal pay for eastern European workers in western Europe, which is opposed by almost a dozen member states.

Trade

“We should be aware that the world is watching us,” he warned.

He expressed full support for continuing closing and negotiating trade deals, especially the deal with Canada due to be signed this October.

“I am very much behind CETA, which us the best and most progressive trade deal we have ever entered into,” he said.

He did not mention the controversial free-trade talks with the US, but he pledged to protect the European steel industry from Chinese dumping.

Juncker's EU vision to focus on security

Juncker will aim to please southern states by talk of investment, and others by talk of deeper security cooperation in his first big speech since the Brexit vote.

News in Brief

  1. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  2. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  3. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  4. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit
  5. UK to allow EU flights in no-deal Brexit
  6. Greek reporters arrested after story on 'mishandled' EU funds
  7. Austrian minister urges police to out foreign sex offenders
  8. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group

EU parliament will not budge on office expenses

Hungarian centre-right MEP Livia Jaroka sticks to earlier decision: documents related to the minor reform of the expenses system, requested by EUobserver, should remain secret.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  2. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  3. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  4. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  5. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  6. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  7. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  8. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us