Sunday 17 September 2017

State of the Union 2017: Letter of intent and Roadmap

Already, the European Commission’s State of the Union web page has been updated several times, with new language versions and documents relating to the future of Europe debate #FutureOfEurope, president Jean-Claude Juncker’s state of the European Union 2017 #SOTEU speech and the draft Commission Work Programme #CWP2018.

The SOTEU press release IP/17/3164 offers highlights from the speech in 23 official EU languages, the text of the address SPEECH/17/3165 is available even in Gaelic and on the Commission’s SOTEU web page you can watch a video recording of president Juncker’s hour-long trilingual presentation.

Letter of intent  

At the time of writing it seems to exist in English only. The twelve pages of the European Commission’s letter of intent to the president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani and the prime minister of Estonia Jüri Ratas (for the presidency of the Council of the European Union) begin by striking an upbeat note before setting out the guiding principles (page 3):

Today, we are sending you our intentions for the Commission Work Programme for the next sixteen months up to the end of 2018. As Europe looks to its future, we are presenting you with a Roadmap for a More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union to build on the current momentum. Our Roadmap is constructed in two parts. Firstly, we suggest actions and initiatives to be presented and/or completed over the next sixteen months, in line with scenario 1 of the White Paper and the Bratislava Agenda. Secondly, we suggest actions and initiatives which are more ambitious, more forward-looking and that will shape our Union until 2025; this combines scenarios 3, 4 and/or 5 of the White Paper, making full use of the untapped potential of the Lisbon Treaty.   

Our Roadmap is based on the following important principles: the imperative to respect our common European values, including the rule of law; the continued focus on delivery and enforcement of priority initiatives that have a clear European added value and make Europe a better place for its citizens, in line with our 2014 Political Guidelines and our common belief that our Union should be big on big issues and small on small ones; the need to treat citizens of all EU Member States equally and never to allow, within our Union, the emergence of second-class citizens; and a strong emphasis on efficiency, democracy and transparency in all our common actions.

The Roadmap also anticipates that as of 29 March 2019 the United Kingdom will no longer be a member of our Union, following its notification under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Up until and beyond this moment, we want to preserve the unity of the EU27 that we have built up over the past months.

Roadmap to end 2018

On progress this far you can consult the EPRS European Parliamentary Research Service reference publication The European Commission at mid-term, presented in the blog post European Commission priorities at mid-term.

On page 4 the letter of intent gets down to brass tacks, with a Roadmap for a More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union (Draft Commission Work Programme up to the end of 2018), advancing one Commission priority at a time:

1. A new boost for jobs, growth and investment
2. A connected digital single market
3. A resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy
4. A deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base
5. A deeper and fairer economic and monetary union (EMU)
6. A balanced and progressive trade policy to harness globalisation [renamed and updated]
7. An area of justice and fundamental rights based on mutual trust
8. Towards a new policy on migration
9. Europe as a stronger global actor
10. A union of democratic change

The last text page (11) describes the consultation process leading from the draft to the final CWP 2018.


A second Roadmap? It is somewhat bewildering that the two-page brochure offering a short introduction and a timetable for the discussion about the future of Europe is also called a Roadmap, namely Roadmap for a more united, stronger and more democratic union.

For this future of Europe schedule until the European Parliament elections in June 2019, the graphic designers in love with pastel colours have again beaten the friends of readable text, black on white.
The schedule/roadmap has also been posted among other documents under the headline Factsheets on the State of the Union, there available in all the official EU languages.

When I tested half a dozen of the schedule/roadmaps, I noticed that Juncker’s words were in Italian in the Danish version, the headline of the Estonian timetable was in German, and the first page of the Finnish roadmap was in Italian and Danish. Come Monday, a round of quality control could be in order.  

Substantial SOTEU proposals

The Commission’s State of the Union 2017 web page has been updated with references to SOTEU proposals published already between 13 and 15 September 2017, by now the code of conduct for Commissioners, the package on international trade and investment, as well as the so called democracy package.

Now or later you can also search the press release database of the European Commission for these and future updates.

Ralf Grahn

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