European Commission President Juncker’s State of the Union 2018 address: Key points
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his annual, and final, State of the Union address to the European Parliament on September 12 2018. These are the key points.
A reinforced European Public Prosecutor’s Office to fight cross-border terrorism: The European Commission is proposing to strengthen the European Public Prosecutor’s Office by giving it the power to fight cross-border terrorism.
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office would be in charge of the investigations and direct the different member states’ authorities and EU agencies dealing with terrorist cases affecting more than one member state. It would have better access to information from member states through the European Prosecutors part of the European Public Prosecutor’s college or the European delegated prosecutors. It would be best placed to gather and share information across the entire EU, including with the EU Agencies Eurojust and Europol, as well as with non-EU countries.
New rules to get terrorist content off the web: Every internet platform that wants to offer its services in the European Union will be subject to clear rules to prevent their services from being misused to disseminate terrorist content. Strong safeguards will also be introduced to protect freedom of speech on the internet and ensure only terrorist content is targeted, the European Commission said.
Stronger anti-money laundering supervision: The European Commission proposes to amend the regulation establishing the European Banking Authority (EBA) in order to reinforce the role of the EBA in anti-money laundering supervision of the financial sector.
Making the EU a stronger global actor: Juncker proposed that EU countries make use of existing EU rules to move from unanimity to qualified majority voting in certain areas of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). This would allow the EU to become a stronger global actor, better able to shape global events and to shoulder international responsibilities.
Migration and border reform: “Today’s proposals set a new level of ambition for the European Border and Coast Guard and the EU’s Agency for Asylum, reinforcing both to ensure that member states can rely on full EU operational support at all times. The Commission is also today proposing to improve the effectiveness of return procedures,updating existing EU rules on return, and setting out the next steps on legal migration, an essential component of a balanced migration policy.”
A reinforced EU Asylum Agency: The proposal will further equip the future EU Asylum Agency with the necessary mandate, tools and financial means needed to provide a rapid and full service to member states throughout the asylum procedure. The proposal includes:
Full operational support on asylum procedures: The Agency’s asylum support teams will be available to provide the full range of support activities, including by carrying out the entire administrative stage of the asylum procedure;
Joint EU migration management teams will support Member States when needed and requested, including in hotspots and controlled centres. Composed of experts from the European Border and Coast Guard, the EU Agency for Asylum and Europol, the teams will be coordinated by the Commission. Under the authority of the host member state, they will be able to carry out all tasks necessary to receive arrivals, distinguish between persons in need of protection and those not and carry out asylum and return procedures;
Increased financial means: To ensure the Agency can carry out its increased tasks, the Commission proposes a budget of 321 million euro for the period 2019-2020 and 1.25 billion euro for the period 2021-2027.
Measures for securing free and fair European elections: Juncker announced a set of concrete measures, including greater transparency in online political advertisements and the possibility to impose sanctions for the illegal use of personal data in order to deliberately influence the outcome of the European elections. “The objective of today’s Commission proposals is to address potential threats to elections and thereby strengthen the resilience of the Union’s democratic systems,” the Commission said.
A more efficient financial architecture to support investment outside the EU: Juncker proposed a new ‘Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs’ to focus investment where it matters most: in skills and job creation. To achieve this, a more effective governance model and greater collaboration between multilateral and national development actors in Europe is needed. “The European Commission is thus today setting out a number of ways to address the investment challenges and opportunities in Africa, the EU’s Neighbourhood and the wider world. These include calls for joint initiatives between multilateral and national development actors and a reinforced European financial architecture able to meet the ambition of the newly proposed Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument.”
An end to seasonal clock changes: The Commission’s proposal puts an end to seasonal clock changes for the entire European Union; sets out a clear and short timetable for the changes to take effect; and encourages consultation at national and European levels, to ensure a coordinated approach among member states, the Commission said.
To allow for a smooth transition, under the Commission’s proposal each member state would notify by April 2019 whether it intends to apply permanent summer- or wintertime. The last mandatory change to summertime would take place on March 31 2019. After this, the Member States wishing to permanently switch back to wintertime would still be able to make one last seasonal clock change on October 27 2019. Following that date, seasonal clock changes would no longer be possible.
(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)