Today in the European Parliament plenary session, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker offered the annual State of the Union speech. The speech looks at Europe's current political and economic landscape. It is an opportunity to review the work of the EU over the past year, and to look ahead to the priorities of the coming year.
Juncker’s key message was: "Ten years since crisis struck, Europe's economy is finally bouncing back. And with it, our confidence. Our EU27 leaders, the Parliament and the Commission are putting the Europe back in our Union. Together, we are putting the Union back in our Union."
During the debate following the address, the leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, called upon President Juncker to use the last two years of his Presidency to launch a reform agenda: “The populists announced a populist spring, but reaped the opposite. A boomerang in their face: the rise of pro-European parties. Because since Brexit, it's clear what our citizens want. Reform Europe, yes! Destroy Europe, no bloody way.”
Verhofstadt warned: “But make no mistake. The fight is far from over. This is no time to sit back and to relax. People don't want “this” Europe, they want to change Europe.”
“73% want more European action to solve migration, 75% want more European action against climate change, the same number want a European army and even more want European capabilities to fight terrorism.”
“The time has come to build the Europe the people are asking for:
1. A real European asylum system so that we can replace the broken Dublin system;
2. A real European border and coast guard, so that people no longer die on our shores.
3. A European defense union, so that we, ourselves, are in charge of our backyard and not always Russians or Americans.
4. A European FBI so that we are really able to fight the terrorists, terrorists who know no borders.
5. A real government for the Eurozone so we can steer the European economy, create European companies that become world champions.”
Verhofstadt concluded: “We also need to strengthen our European democracy.”
“That’s why I’m fighting for transnational lists, for a real European constituency. So that we lift our democracy to a continental scale. Europe is more than just the sum of 27 national democracies. Our European executive needs to be matched by a powerful parliament.”
Read more on Guy’s reaction to the SOTEU speech on ALDE Group’s website.
ALDE Commissioners have also reacted to Juncker’s address. Find below some of the comments from Commissioners Margrethe Vestager, Violeta Bulc, Cecilia Malmstrom, Andrus Ansip and Vera Jourova.
Metaphor from #SOTEU: Europe must breathe with both its lungs, with the eastern and western one. Otherwise our continent is in trouble.— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) September 13, 2017