On 13 September 2017, the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, delivered, in front of the Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, his annual speech on the State of the European Union. The President presented his priorities for the year ahead and explained how the Commission is going to face the most urgent challenges for the EU.

The economic crisis is finally over and « the wind is back in Europe’s sails ». The President declared that 8 millions new jobs have been created in the past few years and that more the 230 millions Europeans are working today (more than in the pre-crisis years). Therefore, « now is the time to build a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe for 2025 ». In Juncker’s opinion, it is the time to relaunch the European dream.

Several other issues were touched upon in the President’s speech.

On the migration issue, President Juncker praised Italy for playing a major role as first responder during migrant crisis and declared the « Italy is saving Europe’s honour in the Mediterranean » : nevertheless, a common answer to handle this problem is needed. Therefore the Commission will come forward with several proposals for the repatriation of irregular migrants.
A lot has been done thanks to the EU-Turkey statement that reduced migrants arrivals in Greece by 97 %. Although Turkey represents a strategic partner in handling the migrant crisis, Junker excluded any possibility for it to join the EU in the next years because it « has been taking giant strides away from the European Union for some time ».

The cybersecurity is another issue that was adressed in Juncker’s speech : the Commission is proposing new tools that « help to defend us », including a European Cybersecurity Agency. Infact, nearly four thousand cyberattacks hitted EU countries last year and « cyber-attacks can be more dangerous to the stability of democracies and economies than guns and tanks ».

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and « set against the collapse of ambition in the United States », Europe has to take the responsability to be a model and protect the planet. Therefore, the Commission will elaborate and present a plan to reduce CO2 emissions.

On trade issue Juncker said that « we are not naive free traders. Europe must always defend its strategic interests ». While the Commission is proposing to open trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, a new EU framework for investment screening will be defined and proposed.

Juncker adressed also institutional reforms in his speech. He pointed out the need for the European Union to have a European Minister of Economy and Finance that « promotes and supports structural reforms in our Member States ».
Finally, President Juncker stated that « Europe would function better if we were to merge the Presidents of the European Commission and the European Council » and that the creation of lead candidates for the European elections would strengthen European democracy.

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