European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his 2018 State of the Union Address
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker today delivered his 2018 State of the Union Address, before the Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, presenting his priorities for the year ahead and outlining his vision for how the European Union can continue to build a 'More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union', which was the theme of his 2017 Address. Against the backdrop of an ever more uncertain world, he stressed the need for Europe to become more sovereign so as to be able to play a role in shaping global affairs.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said today: "The geopolitical situation makes this Europe's hour: the time for European sovereignty has come. It is time Europe took its destiny into its own hands. This belief that “united we stand taller” is the very essence of what it means to be part of the European Union. Sharing sovereignty – when and where needed – makes each of our nation states stronger."
On Brexit, President Juncker said:
"Another issue where I see a strong need for the Union for leadership is Brexit. I will not enter into the details of the negotiations, which are being masterfully handled by my friend Michel Barnier. He works on the basis of a unanimous position confirmed time and again by the 27 Member States. However, allow me to recall three principles which should guide our work on Brexit in the months to come.
First of all, we respect the British decision to leave our Union, even though we continue to regret it deeply. But we also ask the British government to understand that someone who leaves the Union cannot be in the same privileged position as a Member State. If you leave the Union, you are of course no longer part of our single market, and certainly not only in the parts of it you choose.
Secondly, the European Commission, this Parliament and all other 26 Member States will always show loyalty and solidarity with Ireland when it comes to the Irish border. This is why we want to find a creative solution that prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland. But we will equally be very outspoken should the British government walk away from its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement. It is not the European Union, it is Brexit that risks making the border more visible in Northern Ireland.
Thirdly, after 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom will never be an ordinary third country for us. The United Kingdom will always be a very close neighbour and partner, in political, economic and security terms.
In the past months, whenever we needed unity in the Union, Britain was at our side, driven by the same values and principles as all other Europeans. This is why I welcome Prime Minister May's proposal to develop an ambitious new partnership for the future, after Brexit. We agree with the statement made in Chequers that the starting point for such a partnership should be a free trade area between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
On the basis of these three principles, the Commission’s negotiators stand ready to work day and night to reach a deal. We owe it to our citizens and our businesses to ensure the United Kingdom's withdrawal is orderly and that there is stability afterwards. It will not be the Commission that will stand in the way of this, I can assure you of that."
Watch President Juncker delivering the 2018 State of the Union address to the European Parliament and read the full text of his speech here.
President Juncker's speech in the European Parliament was accompanied by the adoption of 18 concrete initiatives by the European Commission on migration and borders, security, free and secure elections, the European Union's partnership with Africa and the EU as a global actor, putting words immediately into action. These proposals are intended to help deliver positive results for citizens by the time of the Sibiu Summit in May 2019 and ahead of the 2019 European elections.
For all information on the 2018 State of the Union, including the Letter of Intent, see the main webpage here.
All information on the proposals, including the press material on each topic, is available online via the links below:
- Security: New rules to get terrorist content off the web; measures for securing free and fair European elections; A reinforced European Public Prosecutor’s Office to fight cross-border terrorism; and initiatives to invest in cybersecurity;
- Migration and border reform: A reinforced European Union Agency for Asylum; A fully equipped European Border and Coast Guard; Stronger EU rules on return; Legal migration;
- Africa and External Investment: A new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs; A more efficient financial architecture for investment outside the EU;
- Common Foreign and Security Policy: Improving the efficiency of decision-making;
- Seasonal clock changes: Commission proposes to put an end to seasonal clock changes;
- Anti-Money Laundering: Stronger anti-money laundering supervision for a stable banking and financial sector.
Download the speech and all accompanying documentation here.