Tuesday, 22 September 2015

More backing for Junckers' State of the European Union #SOTEU

After response and feedback to Commission president Junckers' State of the European Union (SOTEU) 2015 address, we turn to an assessment from civil society, another from research and education, as well as the political will of the European Parliament.

Go to the European Commission's SOTEU page for the full version in English or French, or material available in other languages. Check Twitter #SOTEU for old and possible new sources of interest.


Finally the Europe of good will we have been waiting for a while, Franco Chittolina concluded in a comment on Apiceuropa: Juncker e l'Europa della buona volontà. The Commission president spoke frankly, repeatedly declaring: ”There is not enough Europe in this Union. And there is not enough Union in this Union.”

The clear and courageous message from the political Commission was directed particularly at the scattered member states with little sense of union and few references to the European founding values and to its tradition of solidarity and reception.

Just a few days after Junckers' speech in Strasbourg, the meeting of the EU home affairs ministers 14 September revealed the deep split among the member states, but also with regard to the Commission and the European Parliament.

Faced with such incompetence from the states, Adriana Longoni fixed her hope on growing numbers of welcoming citizens: La grande faglia dell'Europa.

Maastricht blog

This year's State of the Union was entitled: Time for Honesty, Unity and Solidarity. And the key concepts were: more Europe in the Union, and more Union in Europe.

Aalt Willem Heringa, in the Maastricht blog article The First State of the Union of Juncker, found it appealing that Juncker discussed the major issues, what the EU must stand for and must try to achieve, and not the nitty gritty details, but the broader perspectives.

More problematic is how to get 28 member states to work in the common interest, as well as how to involve EU citizens and national parliaments.

European Parliament

The interior ministers appeared pretty empty-handed and behind the curve, when they emerged from their meeting 14 September 2015. Consequently a new Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council has been called for 22 September to deal with a more equitable settlement of 120,000 refugees. And in anticipation of JHA failure, the members of the European Council (EUCO) have been convened to an informal meeting the next day.

Admittedly, it is easier to opine than to decide, but one week from Junckers' State of the Union address the European Parliament urged the Commission to show strong leadership (press release 16 September 2015).

The encouraging resolution – adopted by 408 votes to 182, with 23 abstentions – is the contribution of the European Parliament to the Commission's Work Programme (CWP) for 2016, to be adopted on the 27 October and to be presented and discussed in the Parliament on 29 October 2015.

The European Parliament resolution of 16 September 2015 on the Commission Work Programme 2016 (provisional version P8_TA-PROV(2015)0323) started by urging the European Commission to use its right of initiative to its full extent in order to give the Union clear leadership, and in particular to deliver the completion of the single market together with the strategic roadmap for economic union, political union and external action.

Next, the Parliament welcomed the focus of the Commission on its ten priorities and emphasised the need to promote the Community interest and keeping the EU united and cohesive.

Besides as an endorsement for the Commission, including its proposals regarding refugees and migration, the resolution can be read as a detailed compilation of almost all the noble (and often contradictory) aspirations at the European level.

Ralf Grahn