Juncker’s State of the Union – Time for Action
On 12 September Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented his last State of the Union speech to the European Parliament. Juncker made clear that a lot of work still lies ahead for the Commission and he presented a large number of initiatives which the Commission still has to tackle. In this snapshot we outline the main elements of Juncker’s speech, give an overview of the key initiatives and analyse whether Juncker could satisfy the high expectations.
The annual State of the Union speech (SOTU) is one of the few opportunities for the European Commission to gain visibility in the Member States and among citizens. As Juncker’s last SOTU (his Commission’s term ends next autumn) it raised particular interest also because Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) start positioning themselves ahead of the European Elections that will take place in May 2019. Commentators expected a legacy speech. Last year’s effort set the bar high with a long-term vision and a very personal pledge for the EU. This year’s speech was more grounded in realism but was accompanied by more proposals than can be expected in a final year.
Actions not words
This year Juncker made clear from the beginning that this was not about listing his achievements or about setting out a vision for the EU. Rather, it was about the many actions that still lie ahead until the end of his Commission’s mandate. Modesty and hard work were the words setting the tone.