Jean-Claude Juncker – 2019 Statement on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, in Brussels on 3 April 2019.

President Tajani,

Honourable Members of this House,

The developments in Westminster over the past days have convinced me of what I already knew. The best way forward is the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement. It has already been agreed by the Government of the United Kingdom, endorsed by this House as well as by the European Council.

In its decision 10 days ago, the European Council paved the way for an extension of the Article 50 negotiation period until the 22 May – on the condition the Withdrawal Agreement was approved by the House of Commons by 29 March. This was not the case.

In light of Prime Minister May’s statement last night, I believe we now have a few more days. If the United Kingdom is in a position to approve the Withdrawal Agreement with a sustainable majority by 12 April, the European Union should be prepared to accept a delay until 22 May.

But 12 April is the ultimate deadline for the approval of the Withdrawal Agreement by the House of Commons. If it has not done so by then, no further short extension will be possible. After 12 April, we risk jeopardising the European Parliament elections, and so threaten the functioning of the European Union.

The Withdrawal Agreement is and has always been a compromise. A fair compromise in which both sides obtained some but not all of what they sought. It is the kind of compromise through which the European Union was built. The kind of compromise that enables the European project to advance. The kind of compromise we need at the moment.

Much of the debate in the House of Commons has related to the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The European Union stands ready to add flexibility to the Political Declaration, to pave the way for a close economic partnership between the European Union and the United Kingdom in the future.

We stand ready to refer to a range of options, from a free trade agreement, to customs arrangements, to a Customs Union all the way to the European Economic Area. The openness we have shown from the start could be laid out, in purest clarity.

On the EU side, we stand ready to launch the talks and negotiations on the future partnership as soon as the Withdrawal Agreement is signed. Before the ink is dry. The Commission’s negotiating team is in place. Michel Barnier, our Chief Negotiator, is ready. I would expect the same level of readiness on the United Kingdom side.

Whether this happens or not depends on the United Kingdom. The European Council gave the United Kingdom the time and the space to decide.

Yet I believe that a “no deal” at midnight on the 12 April is now a very likely scenario. It is not the outcome I want. But it is an outcome for which I have made sure the European Union is ready.

We have been preparing since December 2017. We have always known that the logic of Article 50 makes a “no-deal” the default outcome. We have long been aware of the balance of power in the House of Commons.

In that time, the Commission has published 91 preparedness notices, 32 non-legislative acts, 19 legislative proposals and 3 Communications. We have visited all 27 Member States to support their preparations. We have held 72 seminars with the Member States.

The measures we and the Member States have taken will mitigate the worst impact of a “no-deal” scenario. The protection offered is real. The measures will make sure that EU and UK citizens can continue to live and work where they are at the moment. They make sure that planes can take off and land. We have adapted our financial instrument to make it possible to help fishing communities. We have identified the ways in which law enforcement cooperation can continue. We have taken steps to mitigate disruption on our financial markets.

The measures we have taken are time-limited and unilateral. They provide a cushion for key EU interests at least until the end of the year. But disruption will be inevitable for citizens, for businesses and for almost every sector.

The United Kingdom will be affected more than the European Union because there is no such thing as a “managed or negotiated no-deal” and there is no such thing as a “no-deal transition”.

And whatever happens, the United Kingdom will still be expected to address the three main separation issues.

Citizens’ rights would still need to be upheld and protected.

The United Kingdom would still have to honour its financial commitments made as a Member State.

And thirdly, a solution would still need to be found on the island of Ireland that preserves peace and the internal market. The United Kingdom must fully respect the letter and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.

“No-deal” does not mean no commitments. And these three issues will not go away. They will be a strict condition to rebuild trust and to start talking on the way forward.

At the European Council next week, we will listen to Prime Minister May’s intentions and decide how to proceed. The principles that will guide my actions are clear. I will work until the last moment to avoid a “no-deal” outcome.

The only ones who would benefit from such disruption are the opponents of the global rules-based order. The only ones who would cheer are the populists and the nationalists. The only ones who would celebrate are those who want both the European Union and the United Kingdom to be weak.

The European Union will not kick any Member State out. I will personally do everything I can to prevent a disorderly Brexit and I expect political leaders across the EU27 and in the United Kingdom to do the same.

Thank you.

Jean-Claude Juncker – 2016 State of the Union Address

Below is the text of the speech made by Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, on 14 September 2016 in Brussels, Belgium.

Mr President,

Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

I stood here a year ago and I told you that the State of our Union was not good. I told you that there is not enough Europe in this Union. And that there is not enough Union in this Union.

I am not going to stand here today and tell you that everything is now fine.

It is not.

Let us all be very honest in our diagnosis.

Our European Union is, at least in part, in an existential crisis.

Over the summer, I listened carefully to Members of this Parliament, to government representatives, to many national Parliamentarians and to the ordinary Europeans who shared their thoughts with me.

I have witnessed several decades of EU integration. There were many strong moments. Of course, there were many difficult times too, and times of crisis.

But never before have I seen such little common ground between our Member States. So few areas where they agree to work together.

Never before have I heard so many leaders speak only of their domestic problems, with Europe mentioned only in passing, if at all.

Never before have I seen representatives of the EU institutions setting very different priorities, sometimes in direct opposition to national governments and national Parliaments. It is as if there is almost no intersection between the EU and its national capitals anymore.

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.

Never before have I seen so much fragmentation, and so little commonality in our Union.

We now have a very important choice to make.

Do we give in to a very natural feeling of frustration? Do we allow ourselves to become collectively depressed? Do we want to let our Union unravel before our eyes?

Or do we say: Is this not the time to pull ourselves together? Is this not the time to roll up our sleeves and double, triple our efforts? Is this not the time when Europe needs more determined leadership than ever, rather than politicians abandoning ship?

Our reflections on the State of the Union must start with a sense of realism and with great honesty.

First of all, we should admit that we have many unresolved problems in Europe. There can be no doubt about this.

From high unemployment and social inequality, to mountains of public debt, to the huge challenge of integrating refugees, to the very real threats to our security at home and abroad – every one of Europe’s Member States has been affected by the continuing crises of our times.

We are even faced with the unhappy prospect of a member leaving our ranks.

Secondly, we should be aware that the world is watching us.

I just came back from the G20 meeting in China. Europe occupies 7 chairs at the table of this important global gathering. Despite our big presence, there were more questions than we had common answers to.

Will Europe still be able to conclude trade deals and shape economic, social and environmental standards for the world?

Will Europe’s economy finally recover or be stuck in low growth and low inflation for the next decade?

Will Europe still be a world leader when it comes to the fight for human rights and fundamental values?

Will Europe speak up, with one voice, when territorial integrity is under threat, in violation of international law?

Or will Europe disappear from the international scene and leave it to others to shape the world?

I know that you here in this House would be only too willing to give clear answers to these questions. But we need our words to be followed by joint action. Otherwise, they will be just that: words. And with words alone, you cannot shape international affairs.

Thirdly, we should recognise that we cannot solve all our problems with one more speech. Or with one more summit.

This is not the United States of America, where the President gives a State of the Union speech to both Houses of Congress, and millions of citizens follow his every word, live on television.

In comparison to this, our State of the Union moment here in Europe shows very visibly the incomplete nature of our Union. I am speaking today in front of the European Parliament. And separately, on Friday, I will meet with the national leaders in Bratislava.

So my speech can not only compete for your applause, ignoring what national leaders will say on Friday. I also cannot go to Bratislava with a different message than I have for you. I have to take into account both levels of democracy of our Union, which are both equally important.

We are not the United States of Europe. Our European Union is much more complex. And ignoring this complexity would be a mistake that would lead us to the wrong solutions.

Europe can only work if speeches supporting our common project are not only delivered in this honourable House, but also in the Parliaments of all our Member States.

Europe can only work if we all work for unity and commonality, and forget the rivalry between competences and institutions. Only then will Europe be more than the sum of its parts. And only then can Europe be stronger and better than it is today. Only then will leaders of the EU institutions and national governments be able to regain the trust of Europe’s citizens in our common project.

Because Europeans are tired of the endless disputes, quarrels and bickering.

Europeans want concrete solutions to the very pertinent problem that our Union is facing. And they want more than promises, resolutions and summit conclusions. They have heard and seen these too often.

Europeans want common decisions followed by swift and efficient implementation.

Yes, we need a vision for the long term. And the Commission will set out such a vision for the future in a White Paper in March 2017, in time for the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. We will address how to strengthen and reform our Economic and Monetary Union. And we will also take into account the political and democratic challenges our Union of 27 will be facing in the future. And of course, the European Parliament will be closely involved in this process, as will national Parliaments.

But a vision alone will not suffice. What our citizens need much more is that someone governs. That someone responds to the challenges of our time.

Europe is a cord of many strands – it only works when we are all pulling in the same direction: EU institutions, national governments and national Parliaments alike. And we have to show again that this is possible, in a selected number of areas where common solutions are most urgent.

I am therefore proposing a positive agenda of concrete European actions for the next twelve months.

Because I believe the next twelve months are decisive if we want to reunite our Union. If we want to overcome the tragic divisions between East and West which have opened up in recent months. If we want to show that we can be fast and decisive on the things that really matter. If we want to show to the world that Europe is still a force capable of joint action.

We have to get to work.

I sent a letter with this message to President Schulz and Prime Minister Fico this morning.

The next twelve months are the crucial time to deliver a better Europe:

a Europe that protects;

a Europe that preserves the European way of life;

a Europe that empowers our citizens,

a Europe that defends at home and abroad; and

a Europe that takes responsibility.

A EUROPE THAT PRESERVES OUR WAY OF LIFE

I am convinced the European way of life is something worth preserving.

I have the impression that many seem to have forgotten what being European means.

What it means to be part of this Union of Europeans – what it is the farmer in Lithuania has in common with the single mother in Zagreb, the nurse in Valetta or the student in Maastricht.

To remember why Europe’s nations chose to work together.

To remember why crowds celebrated solidarity in the streets of Warsaw on 1 May 2004.

To remember why the European flag waved proudly in Puerta del Sol on 1 January 1986.

To remember that Europe is a driving force that can help bring about the unification of Cyprus – something I am supporting the two leaders of Cyprus in.

Above all, Europe means peace. It is no coincidence that the longest period of peace in written history in Europe started with the formation of the European Communities.

70 years of lasting peace in Europe. In a world with 40 active armed conflicts, which claim the lives of 170,000 people every year.

Of course we still have our differences. Yes, we often have controversy. Sometimes we fight. But we fight with words. And we settle our conflicts around the table, not in trenches.

An integral part of our European way of life is our values.

The values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law. Values fought for on battlefields and soapboxes over centuries.

We Europeans can never accept Polish workers being harassed, beaten up or even murdered on the streets of Harlow. The free movement of workers is as much a common European value as our fight against discrimination and racism.

We Europeans stand firmly against the death penalty. Because we believe in and respect the value of human life.

We Europeans also believe in independent, effective justice systems. Independent courts keep governments, companies and people in check. Effective justice systems support economic growth and defend fundamental rights. That is why Europe promotes and defends the rule of law.

Being European also means being open and trading with our neighbours, instead of going to war with them. It means being the world’s biggest trading bloc, with trade agreements in place or under negotiation with over 140 partners across the globe.

And trade means jobs – for every €1 billion we get in exports, 14,000 extra jobs are created across the EU. And more than 30 million jobs, 1 in 7 of all jobs in the EU, now depend on exports to the rest of the world.

That is why Europe is working to open up markets with Canada – one of our closest partners and one which shares our interests, our values, our respect for the rule of law and our understanding of cultural diversity. The EU-Canada trade agreement is the best and most progressive deal the EU has ever negotiated. And I will work with you and with all Member States to see this agreement ratified as soon as possible.

Being European means the right to have your personal data protected by strong, European laws. Because Europeans do not like drones overhead recording their every move, or companies stockpiling their every mouse click. This is why Parliament, Council and Commission agreed in May this year a common European Data Protection Regulation. This is a strong European law that applies to companies wherever they are based and whenever they are processing your data. Because in Europe, privacy matters. This is a question of human dignity.

Being European also means a fair playing field.

This means that workers should get the same pay for the same work in the same place. This is a question of social justice. And this is why the Commission stands behind our proposal on the Posting of Workers Directive. The internal market is not a place where Eastern European workers can be exploited or subjected to lower social standards. Europe is not the Wild West, but a social market economy.

A fair playing field also means that in Europe, consumers are protected against cartels and abuses by powerful companies. And that every company, no matter how big or small, has to pay its taxes where it makes its profits. This goes for giants like Apple too, even if their market value is higher than the GDP of 165 countries in the world. In Europe we do not accept powerful companies getting illegal backroom deals on their taxes.

The level of taxation in a country like Ireland is not our issue. Ireland has the sovereign right to set the tax level wherever it wants. But it is not right that one company can evade taxes that could have gone to Irish families and businesses, hospitals and schools. The Commission watches over this fairness. This is the social side of competition law. And this is what Europe stands for.

Being European also means a culture that protects our workers and our industries in an increasingly globalised world. Like the thousands who risk losing their jobs in Gosselies in Belgium – it is thanks to EU legislation that the company will now need to engage in a true social dialogue. And workers and local authorities can count on European solidarity and the help of EU funds.

Being European also means standing up for our steel industry. We already have 37 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in place to protect our steel industry from unfair competition. But we need to do more, as overproduction in some parts of the world is putting European producers out of business. This is why I was in China twice this year to address the issue of overcapacity. This is also why the Commission has proposed to change the lesser duty rule. The United States imposes a 265% import tariff on Chinese steel, but here in Europe, some governments have for years insisted we reduce tariffs on Chinese steel. I call on all Member States and on this Parliament to support the Commission in strengthening our trade defence instruments. We should not be naïve free traders, but be able to respond as forcefully to dumping as the United States.

A strong part of our European way of life that I want to preserve is our agricultural sector. The Commission will always stand by our farmers, particularly when they go through difficult moments as is the case today. Last year, the dairy sector was hit with a ban imposed by Russia. This is why the Commission mobilised €1 billion in support of milk farmers to help them get back on their feet. Because I will not accept that milk is cheaper than water.

Being European, for most of us, also means the euro. During the global financial crisis, the euro stayed strong and protected us from even worse instability. The euro is a leading world currency, and it brings huge, often invisible economic benefits. Euro area countries saved €50 billion this year in interest payments, thanks to the European Central Bank’s monetary policy. €50 billion extra that our finance ministers can and should invest into the economy.

Mario Draghi is preserving the stability of our currency. And he is making a stronger contribution to jobs and growth than many of our Member States.

Yes, we Europeans suffered under a historic financial and debt crisis. But the truth is that while public deficits stood at 6.3% on average in the euro area in 2009, today they are below 2%.

Over the last three years, almost 8 million more people found a job. 1 million in Spain alone, a country which continues to show an impressive recovery from the crisis.

I wish all this was recalled more often – everywhere in Europe where elected politicians take the floor.

Because in our incomplete Union, there is no European leadership that can substitute national leadership.

European nations have to defend the rationale for unity. No one can do it for them.

They can.

We can be united even though we are diverse.

The great, democratic nations of Europe must not bend to the winds of populism.

Europe must not cower in the face of terrorism.

No – Member States must build a Europe that protects. And we, the European institutions, must help them deliver this promise.

A EUROPE THAT EMPOWERS

The European Union should not only preserve our European way of life but empower those living it.

We need to work for a Europe that empowers our citizens and our economy. And today, both have gone digital.

Digital technologies and digital communications are permeating every aspect of life.

All they require is access to high-speed internet. We need to be connected. Our economy needs it. People need it.

And we have to invest in that connectivity now.

That is why today, the Commission is proposing a reform for our European telecommunications markets. We want to create a new legal framework that attracts and enables investments in connectivity.

Businesses should be able to plan their investments in Europe for the next 20 years. Because if we invest in new networks and services, that is at least 1.3 million new jobs over the next decade.

Connectivity should benefit everyone.

That is why today the Commission is proposing to fully deploy 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication systems, across the European Union by 2025. This has the potential to create a further two million jobs in the EU.

Everyone benefiting from connectivity means that it should not matter where you live or how much you earn.

So we propose today to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020.

As the world goes digital, we also have to empower our artists and creators and protect their works.Artists and creators are our crown jewels. The creation of content is not a hobby. It is a profession. And it is part of our European culture.

I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work, whether it is made in studios or living rooms, whether it is disseminated offline or online, whether it is published via a copying machine or hyperlinked on the web.

The overhaul of Europe’s copyright rules we are proposing today does exactly that.

Empowering our economy means investing not just in connectivity, but in job creation.

That is why Europe must invest strongly in its youth, in its jobseekers, in its start-ups.

The €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe, which we agreed together here in this House just twelve months ago, has already raised €116 billion in investments – from Latvia to Luxembourg – in its first year of operation.

Over 200,000 small firms and start-ups across Europe got loans. And over 100,000 people got new jobs. Thanks to the new European Fund for Strategic Investments I proposed, my Commission developed, and you here in the European Parliament supported and adopted in record time.

And now we will take it further. Today, we propose to double the duration of the Fund and double its financial capacity.

With your support, we will make sure that our European Investment Fund will provide a total of at least €500 billion – half a trillion – of investments by 2020. And we will work beyond that to reach €630 billion by 2022. Of course, with Member States contributing, we can get there even faster.

Alongside these efforts to attract private investment, we also need to create the right environment to invest in.

European banks are in much better shape than two years ago, thanks to our joint European efforts. Europe needs its banks. But an economy almost entirely dependent on bank credit is bad for financial stability. It is also bad for business, as we saw during the financial crisis. That is why it is now urgent we accelerate our work on the Capital Markets Union. The Commission is putting a concrete roadmap for this on your table today.

A Capital Markets Union will make our financial system more resilient. It will give companies easier and more diversified access to finance. Imagine a Finnish start-up that cannot get a bank loan. Right now, the options are very limited. The Capital Markets Union will offer alternative, vital sources of funding to help start-ups get started – business angels, venture capital, market financing.

To just mention one example – almost a year ago we put a proposal on the table that will make it easier for banks to provide loans. It has the potential of freeing up €100 billion of additional finance for EU businesses. So let us please speed up its adoption.

Our European Investment Plan worked better than anyone expected inside Europe, and now we are going to take it global. Something many of you and many Member States have called for.

Today we are launching an ambitious Investment Plan for Africa and the Neighbourhood which has the potential to raise €44 billion in investments. It can go up to €88 billion if Member States pitch in.

The logic is the same that worked well for the internal Investment Plan: we will be using public funding as a guarantee to attract public and private investment to create real jobs.

This will complement our development aid and help address one of the root causes of migration. With economic growth in developing countries at its lowest level since 2003, this is crucial. The new Plan will offer lifelines for those who would otherwise be pushed to take dangerous journeys in search of a better life.

As much as we invest in improving conditions abroad, we also need to invest in responding to humanitarian crises back home. And, more than anything, we need to invest in our young people.

I cannot and will not accept that Europe is and remains the continent of youth unemployment.

I cannot and will not accept that the millennials, Generation Y, might be the first generation in 70 years to be poorer than their parents.

Of course, this is mainly a task of national governments. But the European Union can support their efforts. We are doing this with the EU Youth Guarantee that was launched three years ago. My Commission enhanced the effectiveness and sped up delivery of the Youth Guarantee. More than 9 million young people have already benefitted from this programme. That is 9 million young people who got a job, traineeship or apprenticeship because of the EU. And we will continue to roll out the Youth Guarantee across Europe, improving the skillset of Europeans and reaching out to the regions and young people most in need.

The European Union can also contribute by helping create more opportunities for young people.

There are many young, socially-minded people in Europe willing to make a meaningful contribution to society and help show solidarity.

Solidarity is the glue that keeps our Union together.

The word solidarity appears 16 times in the Treaties which all our Member States agreed and ratified.

Our European budget is living proof of financial solidarity.

There is impressive solidarity when it comes to jointly applying European sanctions when Russia violates international law.

The euro is an expression of solidarity.

Our development policy is a strong external sign of solidarity.

And when it comes to managing the refugee crisis, we have started to see solidarity. I am convinced much more solidarity is needed. But I also know that solidarity must be given voluntarily. It must come from the heart. It cannot be forced.

We often show solidarity most readily when faced with emergencies.

When the Portuguese hills were burning, Italian planes doused the flames.

When floods cut off the power in Romania, Swedish generators turned the lights back on.

When thousands of refugees arrived on Greek shores, Slovakian tents provided shelter.

In the same spirit, the Commission is proposing today to set up a European Solidarity Corps. Young people across the EU will be able to volunteer their help where it is needed most, to respond to crisis situations, like the refugee crisis or the recent earthquakes in Italy.

I want this European Solidarity Corps up and running by the end of the year. And by 2020, to see the first 100,000 young Europeans taking part.

By voluntarily joining the European Solidarity Corps, these young people will be able to develop their skills and get not only work but also invaluable human experience.

A EUROPE THAT DEFENDS

A Europe that protects is a Europe that defends – at home and abroad.

We must defend ourselves against terrorism.

Since the Madrid bombing of 2004, there have been more than 30 terrorist attacks in Europe – 14 in the last year alone. More than 600 innocent people died in cities like Paris, Brussels, Nice, or Ansbach.

Just as we have stood shoulder to shoulder in grief, so must we stand united in our response.

The barbaric acts of the past year have shown us again what we are fighting for – the European way of life. In face of the worst of humanity we have to stay true to our values, to ourselves. And what we are is democratic societies, plural societies, open and tolerant.

But that tolerance cannot come at the price of our security.

That is why my Commission has prioritised security from day one – we criminalised terrorism and foreign fighters across the EU, we cracked down on the use of firearms and on terrorist financing, we worked with internet companies to get terrorist propaganda offline and we fought radicalisation in Europe’s schools and prisons.

But there is more to be done.

We need to know who is crossing our borders.

That is why we will defend our borders with the new European Border and Coast Guard, which is now being formalised by Parliament and Council, just nine months after the Commission proposed it. Frontex already has over 600 agents on the ground at the borders with Turkey in Greece and over 100 in Bulgaria. Now, the EU institutions and the Member States should work very closely together to quickly help set up the new Agency. I want to see at least 200 extra border guards and 50 extra vehicles deployed at the Bulgarian external borders as of October.

We will defend our borders, as well, with strict controls, adopted by the end of the year, on everyone crossing them. Every time someone enters or exits the EU, there will be a record of when, where and why.

By November, we will propose a European Travel Information System – an automated system to determine who will be allowed to travel to Europe. This way we will know who is travelling to Europe before they even get here.

And we all need that information. How many times have we heard stories over the last months that the information existed in one database in one country, but it never found its way to the authority in another that could have made the difference?

Border security also means that information and intelligence exchange must be prioritised. For this, we will reinforce Europol – our European agency supporting national law enforcement – by giving it better access to databases and more resources. A counter terrorism unit that currently has a staff of 60 cannot provide the necessary 24/7 support.

A Europe that protects also defends our interests beyond our borders.

The facts are plain: The world is getting bigger. And we are getting smaller.

Today we Europeans make up 8% of the world population – we will only represent 5% in 2050. By then you would not see a single EU country among the top world economies. But the EU together? We would still be topping the charts.

Our enemies would like us to fragment.

Our competitors would benefit from our division.

Only together are we and will we remain a force to be reckoned with.

Still, even though Europe is proud to be a soft power of global importance, we must not be naïve. Soft power is not enough in our increasingly dangerous neighbourhood.

Take the brutal fight over Syria. Its consequences for Europe are immediate. Attacks in our cities by terrorists trained in Daesh camps. But where is the Union, where are its Member States, in negotiations towards a settlement?

Federica Mogherini, our High Representative and my Vice-President, is doing a fantastic job. But she needs to become our European Foreign Minister via whom all diplomatic services, of big and small countries alike, pool their forces to achieve leverage in international negotiations. This is why I call today for a European Strategy for Syria. Federica should have a seat at the table when the future of Syria is being discussed. So that Europe can help rebuild a peaceful Syrian nation and a pluralistic, tolerant civil society in Syria.

Europe needs to toughen up. Nowhere is this truer than in our defence policy.

Europe can no longer afford to piggy-back on the military might of others or let France alone defend its honour in Mali.

We have to take responsibility for protecting our interests and the European way of life.

Over the last decade, we have engaged in over 30 civilian and military EU missions from Africa to Afghanistan. But without a permanent structure we cannot act effectively. Urgent operations are delayed. We have separate headquarters for parallel missions, even when they happen in the same country or city. It is time we had a single headquarters for these operations.

We should also move towards common military assets, in some cases owned by the EU. And, of course, in full complementarity with NATO.

The business case is clear. The lack of cooperation in defence matters costs Europe between €25 billion and €100 billion per year, depending on the areas concerned. We could use that money for so much more.

It can be done. We are building a multinational fleet of air tankers. Let’s replicate this example.

For European defence to be strong, the European defence industry needs to innovate. That is why we will propose before the end of the year a European Defence Fund, to turbo boost research and innovation.

The Lisbon Treaty enables those Member States who wish, to pool their defence capabilities in the form of a permanent structured cooperation. I think the time to make use of this possibility is now. And I hope that our meeting at 27 in Bratislava a few days from now will be the first, political step in that direction.

Because it is only by working together that Europe will be able to defend itself at home and abroad.

A EUROPE THAT TAKES RESPONSIBILITY

The last point I want to make is about responsibility. About taking responsibility for building this Europe that protects.

I call on all EU institutions and on all of our Member States to take responsibility.

We have to stop with the same old story that success is national, and failure European. Or our common project will not survive.

We need to remember the sense of purpose of our Union. I therefore call on each of the 27 leaders making their way to Bratislava to think of three reasons why we need the European Union. Three things they are willing to take responsibility for defending. And that they are willing to deliver swiftly afterwards.

Slow delivery on promises made is a phenomenon that more and more risks undermining the Union’s credibility. Take the Paris agreement. We Europeans are the world leaders on climate action. It was Europe that brokered the first-ever legally binding, global climate deal. It was Europe that built the coalition of ambition that made agreement in Paris possible. But Europe is now struggling to show the way and be amongst the first to ratify our agreement. Only France, Austria and Hungary have ratified it so far.

I call on all Member States and on this Parliament to do your part in the next weeks, not months. We should be faster. Let’s get the Paris agreement ratified now. It can be done. It is a question of political will. And it is about Europe’s global influence.

The European institutions too, have to take responsibility.

I have asked each of my Commissioners to be ready to discuss, in the next two weeks, the State of our Union in the national Parliaments of the countries they each know best. Since the beginning of my mandate, my Commissioners have made over 350 visits to national Parliaments. And I want them to do this even more now. Because Europe can only be built with the Member States, never against them.

We also have to take responsibility in recognising when some decisions are not for us to take. It is not right that when EU countries cannot decide among themselves whether or not to ban the use of glyphosate in herbicides, the Commission is forced by Parliament and Council to take a decision.

So we will change those rules – because that is not democracy.

The Commission has to take responsibility by being political, and not technocratic.

A political Commission is one that listens to the European Parliament, listens to all Member States, and listens to the people.

And it is us listening that motivated my Commission to withdraw 100 proposals in our first two years of office, to present 80% fewer initiatives than over the past 5 years and to launch a thorough review of all existing legislation. Because only by focusing on where Europe can provide real added value and deliver results, we will be able to make Europe a better, more trusted place.

Being political also means correcting technocratic mistakes immediately when they happen. The Commission, the Parliament and the Council have jointly decided to abolish mobile roaming charges. This is a promise we will deliver. Not just for business travellers who go abroad for two days. Not only for the holiday maker who spends two weeks in the sun. But for our cross-border workers. And for the millions of Erasmus students who spend their studies abroad for one or two semesters. I have therefore withdrawn a draft that a well-meaning official designed over the summer. The draft was not technically wrong. But it missed the point of what was promised. And you will see a new, better draft as of next week. When you roam, it should be like at home.

Being political is also what allows us to implement the Stability and Growth Pact with common sense. The Pact’s creation was influenced by theory. Its application has become a doctrine for many. And today, the Pact is a dogma for some. In theory, a single decimal point over 60 percent in a country’s debt should be punished. But in reality, you have to look at the reasons for debt. We should try to support and not punish ongoing reform efforts. For this we need responsible politicians. And we will continue to apply the Pact not in a dogmatic manner, but with common sense and with the flexibility that we wisely built into the rules.

Finally, taking responsibility also means holding ourselves accountable to voters. That is why we will propose to change the absurd rule that Commissioners have to step down from their functions when they want to run in European elections. The German Chancellor, the Czech, Danish or Estonian, Prime Minister do not stop doing their jobs when they run for re-election. Neither should Commissioners. If we want a Commission that responds to the needs of the real world, we should encourage Commissioners to seek the necessary rendez-vous with democracy. And not prevent this.

CONCLUSION

Honourable Members,

I am as young as the European project that turns 60 next years in March 2017.

I have lived it, worked for it, my whole life.

My father believed in Europe because he believed in stability, workers’ rights and social progress.

Because he understood all too well that peace in Europe was precious – and fragile.

I believe in Europe because my father taught me those same values.

But what are we teaching our children now? What will they inherit from us? A Union that unravels in disunity? A Union that has forgotten its past and has no vision for the future?

Our children deserve better.

They deserve a Europe that preserves their way of life.

They deserve a Europe that empowers and defends them.

They deserve a Europe that protects.

It is time we – the institutions, the governments, the citizens – all took responsibility for building that Europe. Together.

Jean-Claude Juncker – 2017 State of the Union Address

Below is the text of the speech made by Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, on 13 September 2017 in Brussels, Belgium.

INTRODUCTION – WIND IN OUR SAILS

Mr President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

When I stood before you this time last year, I had a somewhat easier speech to give.

It was plain for all to see that our Union was not in a good state.

Europe was battered and bruised by a year that shook our very foundation.

We only had two choices. Either come together around a positive European agenda or each retreat into our own corners.

Faced with this choice, I argued for unity.

I proposed a positive agenda to help create – as I said last year – a Europe that protects, a Europe that empowers, a Europe that defends.

Over the past twelve months, the European Parliament has helped bring this agenda to life. We continue to make progress with each passing day. Just last night you worked to find an agreement on trade defence instruments and on doubling our European investment capacity. And you succeeded. Thank you for that.

I also want to thank the 27 leaders of our Member States. Days after my speech last year, they welcomed my agenda at their summit in Bratislava. In doing so they chose unity. They chose to rally around our common ground.

Together, we showed that Europe can deliver for its citizens when and where it matters.

Ever since, we have been slowly but surely gathering momentum.

It helped that the economic outlook swung in our favour.

We are now in the fifth year of an economic recovery that really reaches every single Member State.

Growth in the European Union has outstripped that of the United States over the last two years. It now stands above 2% for the Union as a whole and at 2.2% for the monetary area.

Unemployment is at a nine year low. Almost 8 million jobs have been created during this mandate so far. With 235 million people at work, more people are in employment in the European Union than ever before.

The European Commission cannot take the credit for this alone. Though I am sure that had 8 million jobs been lost, we would have taken the blame.

But Europe’s institutions played their part in helping the wind change.

We can take credit for our European Investment Plan which has triggered €225 billion worth of investment so far. It has granted loans to 450,000 small firms and more than 270 infrastructure projects.

We can take credit for the fact that, thanks to determined action, European banks once again have the capital firepower to lend to companies so that they can grow and create jobs.

And we can take credit for having brought public deficits down from 6.6% to 1.6%. This is thanks to an intelligent application of the Stability and Growth Pact. We ask for fiscal discipline but are careful not to kill growth. This is in fact working very well across the Union – despite the criticism.

Ten years since crisis struck, Europe’s economy is finally bouncing back.

And with it, our confidence.

Our 27 leaders, the Parliament and the Commission are putting the Europe back in our Union. And together we are putting the Union back in our Union.

In the last year, we saw all 27 leaders walk up the Capitoline Hill in Rome, one by one, to renew their vows to each other and to our Union.

All of this leads me to believe: the wind is back in Europe’s sails.

We now have a window of opportunity but it will not stay open forever.

Let us make the most of the momentum, catch the wind in our sails.

For this we must do two things:

First, we should stay the course set out last year. We still have 16 months in which real progress can be made by Parliament, Council and Commission. We must use this time to finish what we started in Bratislava and deliver on our own positive agenda.

Secondly, we should chart the direction for the future. As Mark Twain wrote – I am quoting – years from now we will be more disappointed by the things we did not do, than by those we did. Now is the time to build a more united, a stronger, a more democratic Europe for 2025.

STAYING COURSE

Mr President, Honourable Members,

As we look to the future, we cannot let ourselves be blown off course.

We set out to complete an Energy Union, a Security Union, a Capital Markets Union, a Banking Union and a Digital Single Market. Together, we have already come a long way.

As the Parliament testified, 80% of the proposals promised at the start of the mandate have already been put forward by the Commission. We must now work together to turn proposals into law, and law into practice.

As ever, there will be a degree of give and take. The Commission’s proposals to reform our Common Asylum System and strengthen rules on the Posting of Workers have caused controversy, I know. Achieving a good result will need all sides to do their part so they can move towards each other. I want to say today: as long as the outcome is the right one for our Union and is fair to all its Member States, the Commission will be open to compromise

We are now ready to put the remaining 20% of initiatives on the table by May 2018.

This morning, I sent a Letter of Intent to the President of the European Parliament and to the Prime Minister of Estonia – whose strong work for Europe I would like to praise – outlining the priorities for the year ahead.

I will not and I cannot list all these proposals here, but let me mention five which are particularly important.

Firstly, I want us to strengthen our European trade agenda.

Yes, Europe is open for business. But there must be reciprocity. We have to get what we give.

Trade is not something abstract. Trade is about jobs, creating new opportunities for Europe’s businesses big and small. Every additional €1 billion in exports supports 14,000 extra jobs in Europe.

Trade is about exporting our standards, be they social or environmental standards, data protection or food safety requirements.

Europe has always been an attractive place to do business.

But over the last year, partners across the globe are lining up at our door to conclude trade agreements with us.

With the help of this Parliament, we have just secured a trade agreement with Canada that will provisionally apply as of next week. We have a political agreement with Japan on a future economic partnership. And by the end of the year, we have a good chance of doing the same with Mexico and South American countries.

Today, we are proposing to open trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

I want all of these agreements to be finalised by the end of this mandate. And I want them negotiated in the greatest transparency.

Open trade must go hand in hand with open policy making.

The European Parliament will have the final say on all trade agreements. So its Members, like members of national and regional parliaments, must be kept fully informed from day one of the negotiations. The Commission will make sure of this.

From now on, the Commission will publish in full all draft negotiating mandates we propose to the Council.

Citizens have the right to know what the Commission is proposing. Gone are the days of no transparency. Gone are the days of rumours, of incessantly questioning the Commission’s motives.

I call on the Council to do the same when it adopts the final negotiating mandates.

Let me say once and for all: we are not naïve free traders.

Europe must always defend its strategic interests.

This is why today we are proposing a new EU framework for investment screening. If a foreign, state-owned, company wants to purchase a European harbour, part of our energy infrastructure or a defence technology firm, this should only happen in transparency, with scrutiny and debate. It is a political responsibility to know what is going on in our own backyard so that we can protect our collective security if needed.

Secondly, the Commission wants to make our industry stronger and more competitive.

This is particularly true for our manufacturing base and the 32 million workers that form its backbone. They make the world-class products that give us our edge, like our cars.

I am proud of our car industry. But I am shocked when consumers are knowingly and deliberately misled. I call on the car industry to come clean and make it right. Instead of looking for loopholes, they should be investing in the clean cars of tomorrow

Honourable Members, the new Industrial Policy Strategy we are presenting today will help our industries stay, or become, the number one in innovation, digitisation and decarbonisation.

Third: I want Europe to be the leader when it comes to the fight against climate change.

Last year, we set the global rules of the game with the Paris Agreement ratified here, in this very House. Set against the collapse of ambition in the United States, Europe must ensure we make our planet great again. It is the shared heritage of all of humanity.

The Commission will shortly present proposals to reduce the carbon emissions of our transport sector.

Fourth priority for the year ahead: I want us to better protect Europeans in the digital age.

Over the past years, we have made marked progress in keeping Europeans safe online. New rules, put forward by the Commission, will protect our intellectual property, our cultural diversity and our personal data. We have stepped up the fight against terrorist propaganda and radicalisation online. But Europe is still not well equipped when it comes to cyber-attacks.

Cyber-attacks can be more dangerous to the stability of democracies and economies than guns and tanks. Last year alone there were more than 4,000 ransomware attacks per day and 80% of European companies experienced at least one cyber-security incident.

Cyber-attacks know no borders and no one is immune. This is why, today, the Commission is proposing new tools, including a European Cybersecurity Agency, to help defend us against such attacks.

Fifth: migration must stay on our radar.

In spite of the debate and controversy around this topic, we have managed to make solid progress – though admittedly insufficient in many areas.

We are now protecting Europe’s external borders more effectively. Over 1,700 officers from the new European Border and Coast Guard are now helping Member States’ 100,000 national border guards patrol in places like Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and Spain. We have common borders but Member States that by geography are the first in line cannot be left alone to protect them. Common borders and common protection must go hand in hand.

We have managed to stem irregular flows of migrants, which were a cause of great anxiety for many. We have reduced irregular arrivals in the Eastern Mediterranean by 97% thanks our agreement with Turkey. And this summer, we managed to get more control over the Central Mediterranean route with arrivals in August down by 81% compared to the same month last year.

In doing so, we have drastically reduced the loss of life in the Mediterranean.

I cannot talk about migration without paying strong tribute to Italy for their tireless and noble work. Over the summer months, the Commission worked in perfect harmony with the Prime Minister of Italy, my friend Paolo Gentiloni, and his government to improve the situation. We did so – and we will continue to do so – because Italy is saving Europe’s honour in the Mediterranean.

We must also urgently improve migrants’ living conditions in Libya. I am appalled by the inhumane conditions in detention or reception centres. Europe has a responsibility – a collective responsibility – and the Commission will work in concert with the United Nations to put an end to this scandalous situation that cannot be made to last.

Even if it saddens me to see that solidarity is not yet equally shared across all our Member States, Europe as a whole has continued to show solidarity. Last year alone, our Member States resettled or granted asylum to over 720,000 refugees – three times as much as the United States, Canada and Australia combined. Europe, contrary to what some say, is not a fortress and must never become one. Europe is and must remain the continent of solidarity where those fleeing persecution can find refuge.

I am particularly proud of the young Europeans volunteering to give language courses to Syrian refugees or the thousands more young people who are serving in our new European Solidarity Corps. These young people are bringing life and colour to European solidarity.

But we now need to redouble our efforts. At the end of the month, the Commission will present a new set of proposals with an emphasis on returns, solidarity with Africa and opening legal pathways.

When it comes to returns, I would like to repeat that people who have no right to stay in Europe must be returned to their countries of origin. When only 36% of irregular migrants are returned, it is clear we need to significantly step up our work. This is the only way Europe will be able to show solidarity with refugees in real need of protection.

Solidarity cannot be an exclusively intra-European affair. We must also show solidarity with Africa. Africa is a noble continent, a young continent, the cradle of humanity. Our €2.7 billion EU-Africa Trust Fund is creating employment opportunities across the continent. The EU budget fronted the bulk of the money, but all our Member States combined have still only contributed €150 million. The Fund is currently reaching its limits. We know – or we should know – the dangers of a lack of funding – in 2015 many migrants headed towards Europe when the UN’s World Food Programme ran out of funds. I call on all Member States to now match their actions with their words and ensure the Africa Trust Fund does not meet the same fate. The risk is high.

We will also work on opening up legal pathways. Irregular migration will only stop if there is a real alternative to perilous journeys. We are close to having resettled 22,000 refugees from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon and I support UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ call to resettle a further 40,000 refugees from Libya and the surrounding countries.

At the same time, legal migration is an absolute necessity for Europe as an ageing continent. This is why the Commission made proposals to make it easier for skilled migrants to reach Europe with a Blue Card. I would like to thank the Parliament for its support on this.

SETTING SAIL

Dear Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Honourable Members,

I have mentioned just a few of the initiatives we want and must deliver over the next 16 months. But this alone will not be enough to regain the hearts and minds of Europeans.

Now is the time to chart the direction for the future.

In March, the Commission presented our White Paper on the future of Europe, with five scenarios for what Europe could look like by 2025. These scenarios have been discussed, sometimes superficially, sometimes violently. They have been scrutinised and partly ripped apart. That is good – they were conceived for exactly this purpose. I wanted to launch a process in which Europeans determined their own path and their own future.

The future of Europe cannot be decided by decree. It has to be the result of democratic debate and, ultimately, broad consensus. This House contributed actively, through the three ambitious resolutions on Europe’s future which I would like to particularly thank the rapporteurs for. And I want to thank all the colleagues that participated in the more than 2,000 public events across Europe that the Commission organised since March.

Now is the time to draw first conclusions from this debate. Time to move from reflection to action. From debate to decision.

Today I would like to present you my view: my own ‘sixth scenario’, if you will.

This scenario is rooted in decades of first-hand experience. I have lived, fought and worked for the European project my entire life. I have seen and lived through good times and bad.

I have sat on many different sides of the table: as a Minister, as Prime Minister, as President of the Eurogroup, and now as President of the Commission. I was there in Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon as our Union evolved and enlarged.

I have always fought for Europe. At times I have suffered because of Europe. And even despaired for Europe.

Through thick and thin, I have never lost my love of Europe.

But there is, as we know, rarely love without pain.

Love for Europe because Europe and the European Union have achieved something unique in this fraying world: peace within and peace outside of Europe. Prosperity for many if not yet for all.

This is something we have to remember during the European Year of Cultural Heritage. 2018 must be a celebration of cultural diversity.

A UNION OF VALUES

Our values are our compass.

For me, Europe is more than just a single market. More than money, more than a currency, more than the euro. It was always about values.

That is why, in my sixth scenario, there are three fundamentals, three unshakeable principles: freedom, equality and the rule of law.

Europe is first of all a Union of freedom. Freedom from the kind of oppression and dictatorship our continent knows all too well – sadly none more than central and Eastern European countries. Freedom to voice your opinion, as a citizen and as a journalist – a freedom we too often take for granted. It was on these freedoms that our Union was built. But freedom does not fall from the sky. It must be fought for. In Europe and throughout the world.

Second, Europe must be a Union of equality and a Union of equals.

Equality between its Members, big or small, East or West, North or South.

Make no mistake, Europe extends from Vigo to Varna. From Spain to Bulgaria.

East to West: Europe must breathe with both lungs. Otherwise our continent will struggle for air.

In a Union of equals, there can be no second class citizens. It is unacceptable that in 2017 there are still children dying of diseases that should long have been eradicated in Europe. Children in Romania or Italy must have the same access to measles vaccines as children in other European countries. No ifs, no buts. This is why we are working with all Member States to support national vaccination efforts. Avoidable deaths must not occur in Europe.

In a Union of equals, there can be no second class workers. Workers should earn the same pay for the same work in the same place. This is why the Commission proposed new rules on posting of workers. We should make sure that all EU rules on labour mobility are enforced in a fair, simple and effective way by a new European inspection and enforcement body. It is absurd to have a Banking Authority to police banking standards, but no common Labour Authority for ensuring fairness in our single market. We will create such an Authority.

In a Union of equals, there can be no second class consumers either. I cannot accept that in some parts of Europe, in Central and Eastern Europe,people are sold food of lower quality than in other countries, despite the packaging and branding being identical. Slovaks do not deserve less fish in their fish fingers. Hungarians less meat in their meals. Czechs less cacao in their chocolate. EU law outlaws such practices already. And we must now equip national authorities with stronger powers to cut out these illegal practices wherever they exist.

Third, in Europe the strength of the law replaced the law of the strong.

The rule of law means that law and justice are upheld by an independent judiciary.

Accepting and respecting a final judgement is what it means to be part of a Union based on the rule of law. Our Member States gave final jurisdiction to the European Court of Justice. The judgements of the Court have to be respected by all. To undermine them, or to undermine the independence of national courts, is to strip citizens of their fundamental rights.

The rule of law is not optional in the European Union. It is a must.

Our Union is not a State but it must be a community of law.

A MORE UNITED UNION

These three principles – freedom, equality and the rule of law – must remain the foundations on which we build a more united, stronger and more democratic Union.

When we talk about the future, experience tells me new Treaties and new institutions are not the answer people are looking for. They are merely a means to an end, nothing more, nothing less. They might mean something to us here in Strasbourg or in Brussels. They do not mean a lot to anyone else.

I am only interested in institutional reforms if they lead to more efficiency in our European Union.

Instead of hiding behind calls for Treaty change – which is in any case inevitable – we must first change the mind-set that for some to win others must lose.

Democracy is about compromise. And the right compromise makes winners out of everyone in the long run. A more united Union should see compromise, not as something negative, but as the art of bridging differences. Democracy cannot function without compromise. Europe cannot function without compromise.

A more united Union also needs to become more inclusive.

If we want to protect our external borders and rightly so strengthen them even more, then we need to open the Schengen area of free movement to Bulgaria and Romania immediately. We should also allow Croatia to become a full Schengen member once all the criteria are met.

If we want the euro to unite rather than divide our continent, then it should be more than the currency of a select group of countries. The euro is meant to be the single currency of the European Union as a whole. All but two of our Member States are required and entitled to join the euro once they fulfil the conditions.

Member States that want to join the euro must be able to do so. This is why I am proposing to create a Euro-accession Instrument, offering technical and even financial assistance.

If we want banks to operate under the same rules and under the same supervision across our continent, then we should encourage all Member States to join the Banking Union. We need to reduce the remaining risks in the banking systems of some of our Member States. Banking Union can only function if risk-reduction and risk-sharing go hand in hand. As everyone well knows, this can only be achieved if the conditions, as proposed by the Commission in November 2015, are met. There can only be a common deposit insurance scheme once everyone will have done their national homework.

And if we want to avoid social fragmentation and social dumping in Europe, then Member States should agree on the European Pillar of Social Rights as soon as possible and at the latest at the Gothenburg summit in November. National social systems will still remain diverse and separate for a long time. But at the very least, we should agree on a European Social Standards Union in which we have a common understanding of what is socially fair in our single market.

I remain convinced: Europe cannot work if it shuns workers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if we want more stability in our neighbourhood, then we must also maintain a credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans.

It is clear that there will be no further enlargement during the mandate of this Commission and this Parliament. No candidate is ready. But thereafter the European Union will be greater than 27 in number. Accession candidates must give the rule of law, justice and fundamental rights utmost priority in the negotiations.

This rules out EU membership for Turkey for the foreseeable future.

Turkey has been taking giant strides away from the European Union for some time.

Journalists belong in newsrooms not in prisons. They belong where freedom of expression reigns.

The call I make to those in power in Turkey is this: Let our journalists go. And not only ours. Stop insulting our Member States by comparing their leaders to fascists and Nazis. Europe is a continent of mature democracies. But deliberate insults create roadblocks. Sometimes I get the feeling Turkey is deliberately placing these roadblocks so that it can blame Europe for any breakdown in accession talks.

As for us, we will always keep our hands stretched out towards the great Turkish people and all those who are ready to work with us on the basis of our values.

A STRONGER UNION

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want our Union to be stronger and for this we need a stronger single market.

When it comes to important single market questions, I want decisions in the Council to be taken more often and more easily by qualified majority – with the equal involvement of the European Parliament. We do not need to change the Treaties for this. There are so-called “passerelle clauses” in the current Treaties which allow us to move from unanimity to qualified majority voting in certain cases – provided the European Council decides unanimously to do so.

I am also strongly in favour of moving to qualified majority voting for decisions on the common consolidated corporate tax base, on VAT, on fair taxes for the digital industry and on the financial transaction tax.

Europe has to be able to act quicker and more decisively, and this also applies to the Economic and Monetary Union.

The euro area is more resilient now than in years past. We now have the European Stabilisation Mechanism (ESM). I believe the ESM should now progressively graduate into a European Monetary Fund which, however, must be firmly anchored in the European Union’s rules and competences. The Commission will make concrete proposals for this in December.

We need a European Minister of Economy and Finance: a European Minister that promotes and supports structural reforms in our Member States. He or she can build on the work the Commission has been doing since 2015 with our Structural Reform Support Service. The new Minister should coordinate all EU financial instruments that can be deployed if a Member State is in a recession or hit by a fundamental crisis.

I am not calling for a new position just for the sake of it. I am calling for efficiency. The Commissioner for economic and financial affairs – ideally also a Vice-President – should assume the role of Economy and Finance Minister. He or she should also preside the Eurogroup.

The European Economy and Finance Minister must be accountable to the European Parliament.

We do not need parallel structures. We do not need a budget for the Euro area but a strong Euro area budget line within the EU budget.

I am also not fond of the idea of having a separate euro area parliament.

The Parliament of the euro area is this European Parliament.

The European Union must also be stronger in fighting terrorism. In the past three years, we have made real progress. But we still lack the means to act quickly in case of cross-border terrorist threats.

This is why I call for setting up a European intelligence unit that ensures data concerning terrorists and foreign fighters are automatically shared among intelligence services and with the police.

I also see a strong case for tasking the new European Public Prosecutor with prosecuting cross-border terrorist crimes.

I want our Union to become a stronger global actor. In order to have more weight in the world, we must be able to take foreign policy decisions quicker. This is why I want Member States to look at which foreign policy decisions could be moved from unanimity to qualified majority voting. The Treaty already provides for this, if all Member States agree to do it. We need qualified majority decisions in foreign policy if we are to work efficiently.

And I want us to dedicate further efforts to defence matters. A new European Defence Fund is in the offing. As is a Permanent Structured Cooperation in the area of defence. By 2025 we need a fully-fledged European Defence Union. We need it. And NATO wants it.

Last but not least, I want our Union to have a stronger focus on things that matter, building on the work this Commission has already undertaken. We should not meddle in the everyday lives of European citizens by regulating every aspect. We should be big on the big things. We should not march in with a stream of new initiatives or seek ever growing competences. We should give back competences to Member States where it makes sense.

This is why this Commission has sought to be big on big issues and small on the small ones and has done so, putting forward less than 25 new initiatives a year where previous Commissions proposed well over 100.

To finish the work we started, I am setting up a Subsidiarity and Proportionality Task Force as of this month to take a very critical look at all policy areas to make sure we are only acting where the EU adds value. The First Vice-President, my friend, Frans Timmermans, who has a proven track record on better regulation, will head this Task Force. The Timmermans Task Force should include Members of this Parliament as well as Members of national Parliaments. It should report back in a years’ time.

A MORE DEMOCRATIC UNION

Honourable Members,

Mr President,

Our Union needs to take a democratic leap forward.

I would like to see European political parties start campaigning for the next European elections much earlier than in the past. Too often Europe-wide elections have been reduced to nothing more than the sum of national campaigns. European democracy deserves better.

Today, the Commission is proposing new rules on the financing of political parties and foundations. We should not be filling the coffers of anti-European extremists. We should be giving European parties the means to better organise themselves.

I also have sympathy for the idea of having transnational lists in European elections – though I am aware this is an idea more than a few of you disagree with. I will seek to convince the President of my parliamentary Group to follow me in this ambition which will bring Europe democracy and clarity.

I also believe that, over the months to come, we should involve national Parliaments and civil society at national, regional and local level more in the work on the future of Europe. Over the last three years, as we promised, Members of the Commission have visited national Parliaments more than 650 times. They also debated in more than 300 interactive Citizens’ Dialogues in more than 80 cities and towns across 27 Member States. This is why I support President Macron’s idea of organising democratic conventions across Europe in 2018.

As the debate gathers pace, I will personally pay particular attention to Estonia, to Latvia, to Lithuania and to Romania in 2018. This is the year they will celebrate their 100th anniversary. Those who want to shape the future of our continent should well understand and honour our common history. This includes these four countries – the European Union would not be whole without them.

The need to strengthen democracy and transparency also has implications for the European Commission. Today, I am sending the European Parliament a new Code of Conduct for Commissioners. The new Code first of all makes clear that Commissioners can be candidates in European Parliament elections under the same conditions as everyone else. The new Code will of course strengthen the integrity requirements for Commissioners both during and after their mandate.

If you want to strengthen European democracy, then you cannot reverse the small democratic progress seen with the creation of lead candidates – ‘Spitzenkandidaten’. I would like the experience to be repeated.

More democracy means more efficiency. Europe would function better if we were to merge the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission.

This is nothing against my good friend Donald, with whom I have worked intimately and seamlessly together since the beginning of my mandate. This is nothing against Donald or against me.

Europe would be easier to understand if one captain was steering the ship.

Having a single President would simply better reflect the true nature of our European Union as both a Union of States and a Union of citizens.

OUR ROADMAP

My dear colleagues,

The vision of a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe I am outlining today combines elements from all of the scenarios I set out to you in March.

But our future cannot remain a simple scenario, a sketch, an idea amongst others.

We have to prepare the Union of tomorrow, today.

This morning I sent a Roadmap to President Tajani, President Tusk as well as to the holders of the rotating Presidencies of the Council between now and March 2019, outlining where we should go from here.

An important element will be the budgetary plans the Commission will present in May 2018. Here again we have a choice: either we pursue the European Union’s ambitions in the strict framework of the existing budget, or we increase the European Union’s budgetary capacity so that it might better reach its ambitions. I am for the second option.

On 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. This will be both a sad and tragic moment. We will always regret it. But we have to respect the will of the British people. We will advance, we must advance because Brexit is not everything. Because Brexit is not the future of Europe.

On 30 March 2019, we will be a Union of 27. I suggest that we prepare for this moment well, amongst the 27 and within the EU institutions.

European Parliament elections will take place just a few weeks later, in May 2019. Europeans have a date with democracy. They need to go to the polls with a clear understanding of how the European Union will develop over the years to come.

This is why I call on President Tusk and Romania, the country holding the Presidency in the first half of 2019, to organise a Special Summit in Romania on 30 March 2019. My wish is that this summit be held in the beautiful city of Sibiu, also known as Hermannstadt. This should be the moment we come together to take the decisions needed for a more united, stronger and democratic Europe.

My hope is that on 30 March 2019, Europeans will wake up to a Union where we stand by all our values. Where all Member States respect the rule of law without exception. Where being a full member of the euro area, the Banking Union and the Schengen area has become the norm for all.

Where we have shored up the foundations of our Economic and Monetary Union so that we can defend our single currency in good times and bad, without having to call on external help. Where our single market will be fairer towards workers from the East and from the West.

I want Europeans to wake up to a Europe where we have managed to agree on a strong pillar of social standards. Where profits will be taxed where they were made. Where terrorists have no loopholes to exploit. Where we have agreed on a proper European Defence Union. Where eventually a single President leads the work of the Commission and the European Council, having been elected after a democratic Europe-wide election campaign.

Mr President, if our citizens wake up to this Union on 30 March 2019, then the European Union will be a Union able to meet their legitimate expectations.

CONCLUSION

Honourable Members,

Europe was not made to stand still. It must never do so.

Helmut Kohl and Jacques Delors, whom I had the honour to know, taught me that Europe only moves forward when it is bold. The single market, Schengen and the single currency: these were all ideas that were written off as pipe dreams before they happened. And yet these three ambitious projects are now a part of our daily reality.

Now that Europe is doing better, people tell me I should not rock the boat.

But now is not the time to err on the side of caution.

We started to fix the European roof. But today and tomorrow we must patiently, floor by floor, moment by moment, inspiration by inspiration, continue to add new floors to the European House.

We must complete the European House now that the sun is shining and whilst it still is.

Because when the next clouds appear on the horizon – and they will appear one day – it will be too late.

So let’s throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the harbour.

And catch the trade winds in our sails.

Theresa May – 2017 Joint Statement with President Jean-Claude Juncker

Below is the text of the joint statement issued by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, made on 16 October 2017.

The Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission had a broad, constructive exchange on current European and global challenges.

They discussed their common interest in preserving the Iran nuclear deal and their work on strengthening the security of citizens in Europe, notably on the fight against terrorism. They also prepared for the European Council that will take place later this week.

As regards the Article 50 negotiations, both sides agreed that these issues are being discussed in the framework agreed between the EU27 and the United Kingdom, as set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission reviewed the progress made in the Article 50 negotiations so far and agreed that these efforts should accelerate over the months to come. The working dinner took place in a constructive and friendly atmosphere.