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State of the Union 2016 - Towards a Europe that Protects, Empowers and Defends

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his 2016 State of the Union address, before the Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 14th September where he took stock of achievements of the past year and presented his priorities for the year ahead. He outlined how the Commission will address the most pressing challenges the European Union is facing. Among his key messages were: -

Europe at a critical juncture

"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." – There will be a Vision for the future in a White Paper in March 2017, in time for the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome – including next phase of EMU;

Preserving the European Way of Life

Free Movement, against the death penalty, trade agreements (growth for Europe through reduced tariffs), data protection, posting of workers, fair Competition, against sweetheart deals for the largest companies and steel dumping through trade defence and sustainable agriculture as he could not accept that milk costs less than water.

A Europe that Empowers

Copyright, Connectivity and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020, and fully deploying 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication systems, across the European Union by 2025. Investment and Jobs by doubling the duration of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and doubling its financial capacity to provide a total of at least €500 billion – half a trillion – of investments by 2020 (€630 billion by 2022). Solidarity and Migration: including an Investment Plan for Africa and the Neighbourhood which has the potential to raise €44 billion in investments.

A Europe that Defends

Agsinst terrorism and security: a new European Border and Coast Guard at external borders replacing FRONTEX. Global Europe: Europe can no longer afford to piggy-back on the military might of others creating a European Defence Fund, to turbo boost research and innovation in the defence sector. A European Strategy for Syria to lever Europes efforts in international negotiations and a Defence Union to pool Europes defence capabilities in the form of a permanent structured cooperation.

A Europe that takes responsibility

Called on Europe’s 27 leaders to identify 3 things they are willing to take responsibility for and help deliver swiftly. That the Commissioners are ready to discuss in the national Parliaments the State of the Union as Europe can only be built with the Member States, never against them. And for the millions of Erasmus students who spend their studies abroad for one or two semesters. You will see a new, better draft as of next week. When you roam, it should be like at home."

Every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers his State of the Union speech before the European Parliament. The speech kick-starts the dialogue with the Parliament and Council and is a precursor to the EC Work Programme for 2017.

Download the EU State of the Union brochure and stream the highlights from Mr Junckers speech.

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Issue 51