“We cannot have democracy without freedom of the press” – Juncker in SOTEU

State of the Union 2018- statement by Jean-Claude JUNCKER, President of the EC

🔴 Follow the State of the Union debate LIVE as Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Parliament members discuss what Europe's priorities should be for the coming years 🇪🇺

Posted by European Parliament on Wednesday, September 12, 2018

09:35: Eu Commission President Jean Claude Juncker has started addressing the EU parliament in the annual State of the Union speech. He said that the EU plans to send 10,000 more border guards to tackle unlawful immigration by 2020. Juncker stressed he was not militarising Europe. He called for more solidarity, rather than “ad-hoc solutions” for people on migrant ships.

09:40: Juncker said that Brexit needs to be governed by mutual respect: the EU to respect the British decision and the UK to respect the fact that it cannot have a pick and choose solution in the agreement. The issue of the Irish border needs also to appreciate mutual relations. Finally, Juncker said that the UK will never be a ‘third country’ for the EU but a free trade area is possible.

09:45: Juncker said that the EU must decide quickly on matters relating to co-operation with Africa, on immigration and on defence, as well as the international role of the Euro. He said that while some say that the EU elections for MEPs should come first, these matters are urgent and need to be tackled with priority. “We must and will go further on the Euro” said Juncker and called it an aberration that EU countries trade in Dollars rather than in Euro.

09:50: Moving on to foreign policy, Juncker said that it is not right that the EU was prohibited from taking a stand on human rights issues in China because one country voted against. He said that for this reason, a qualified majority voting was being proposed and the time has come ‘to use this lost treasure of the Lisbon treaty’. He said that the EU should be able to decide on certain tax matters by qualified majority.

09:53: Europe must always be a place of freedom of expression, said Juncker. “We cannot have democracy without freedom of the press,” said the EU Commission president saying that too many times the media is being harnessed and even murdered. He said that while the art of compromise needs to be revived, the EU cannot and will not accept any incursion on the rule of law. Article 7 must be applied where the rule of law is not respected said Juncker to repeated applause. Applying the decisions of the European Courts is not simply an option, said Juncker.

09:56: Europe’s diplomacy must be conducted in the singular, said Juncker and the EU must unify better its diplomatic efforts so that the Eastern European and the Western European states speak as one. “I would like to see the Spitzenkandidat be more successful,” said Juncker, emphasizing that this methodology decreases the influence of harmful nationalistic expressions which poisons and deceives communities.

09:57: In this his last Soteu, Juncker closed the speech by affirming that ” Europe is the love of my life and I shall love it forever”

Read the full speech here.