13 September 2017
Co-chair Reinhard Bütikofer comments on the “State of the European Union” address by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker:
"President Juncker’s speech on the “State of the European Union” was an encouragement to all those that support the great project of European unification.
"The sentiment that Juncker expressed was quite different from last year´s: not gloom and doom, but self-confidence and renewed ambition.
"Juncker spoke against the backdrop of a stronger economy and an important sequence of electoral defeats of different European authoritarian and populist movements. He did not make the mistake of falling into the trap of complacency, but listed clear priorities and a host of important initiatives. For instance, he advocated that in the future the EU Council should vote on important tax issues and on some foreign policy issues by qualified majority, in order to give Europe a stronger and more coherent voice.
"Juncker emphasised several times the need to build a union of social standards. Against those that advocate a core Europe or a two-speed Europe, Juncker insisted on coherence by advocating Eurozone and Schengen membership for member countries that do not yet belong to these systems.
"His proposal to merge the position of EU Commission President with the Presidency of the European Council is a good one. Also, his advocacy of having a European Finance Minister from among the Vice-Presidents of the EU Commission makes sense.
"We hope that the spirit of fighting with self-confidence for a more effective Europe that delivers for its citizens will be picked up by the member states and be transformed together with the EU Parliament into our common reality on the ground."