State of the Union Address 2016 – Towards a better Europe
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, in his annual State of the European Union (#SOTEU) speech, has called for a Europe that “protects, empowers and defends” its citizens. He said “The next twelve months are decisive if we want to reunite our Union.”
- Europe must invest strongly in its youth, jobseekers, and start-ups.
- An ambitious Investment Plan for Africa – a lifeline for those who might risk dangerous journeys for a better life.
- We propose free wireless for every European village and city by 2020.
- Journalists, publishers and authors should be paid fairly for their work, wherever it’s made and shared.
- We will defend our borders with the new European Border and Coast Guard.
Britain was also on the menu, with regards to the British vote to leave the EU – Mr Juncker said: “we respect and at the same time regret the UK decision. But the European Union as such is not at risk.” He added that the negotiation process should be triggered by the UK as soon as possible. Relations with the UK would remain on a friendly basis but ” only those who accept that there will be free access for persons and goods can have unlimited access to the internal market. There can be no “à la carte” access to the single market.”
The Commission also decided to set up a Task Force for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations with the United Kingdom (Article 50 Task Force)
This speech is the European Commission’s contribution to the informal meeting of the 27 Heads of State or Government in Bratislava on 16 September 2016. It also kick-starts a dialogue with the European Parliament and Council to prepare the Commission’s 2017 Work Programme.