Nick Gutteridge Profile picture
Sep 12, 2018 23 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
1/? Here we go then, Jean-Claude Juncker's (probably) last ever State of the Union speech. Last year's caused quite a stir. Will J-C look to go out with a bang? Expecting big forays on migration, Rule of Law, foreign & defence policy, & probably a small mention of Brexit. #SOTEU
Juncker unsurprisingly starts out by talking up the current strengths of the EU economy. He points out there are a record 239 million people in work across Europe and youth unemployment stands at 14.8%. Adds: 'That figure is still too high but it's the lowest figure since 2000.'
Juncker says he's proud to have helped Greece stay in the eurozone despite the 'painful years' that caused, and adds: 'I pay homage to the Herculean efforts of the Greek people, an effort that others in Europe still haven't acknowledged sufficiently.'
Juncker says the trade agreements his Commission has sought around the world are 'often called into question wrongly'. He says pooled sovereignty means he can go to trading partners and defend the interests of 'an open continent but not one that we'll hand over'.
Juncker, onto Syria, mentions the disaster in Idlib: 'We cannot remain silent in the face of an impending humanitarian disaster which is a disaster foretold. The Syrian conflict shows us how the international order has been increasingly called into question.'
Leading on from that, a pretty open reference to Trump: 'Europe can no longer be assured that the commitments entered into in the past will still be respected in the future. Yesterday's alliances may no longer be tomorrow's alliances. Today's world needs a strong united Europe.'
On his ambitious defence plans, Juncker insists: 'We will not be militarising the EU what we're seeking is greater responsibility and independence because only a strong, united Europe will be in a position to defend our citizens from internal and external threats.'
A message for Britain here on Galileo? 'No single member state would've been able to launch the satellites that 400m users around the world are already benefitting from. No member state could've done that on its own. Galileo is a success story, but only a European success story.'
Juncker raises EU voters' disillusionment ahead of next year's EP elections. Says EU must 'get across the evidence to our citizens that when we act together the EU can achieve results'. Proposes new single use plastics ban and ending Daylight Saving Time will achieve this.
Juncker has a pop at (some) Member States for not implementing its policies on migration: 'I won't allow in future that the Commission is made the sole scapegoat. Scapegoats exist in all institutions, the least of them in the Commission and the Parliament.'
Quickfire double proposal from Juncker. 1st on cross-border crime beefed up powers for EPPO. 'We must be able to prosecute terrorists across border. Terrorists don't know any borders. We're proposing new measures today so we can act on money laundering in a cross-border manner.'
2nd on electoral manipulation (here's look at you, Vlad): 'The Commission is proposing new rules to protect electoral processes against manipulation from third countries and huge private interests.'
Juncker says EU needs 'proper balanced solutions' to policing its external borders: 'Every new ship, we can't be talking every time about ad hoc solutions from the people on board. We need more solidarity and solidarity must be lasting and organised.'
Juncker: 'We're making a proposal for the return of illegal migrants. I repeat my call to open legal routes for migration into Europe. We need qualified migrants. The Commission proposals on this have been on the table for some time so please implement them.'
Juncker says he's proposing 'a new alliance between Europe and Africa, an alliance for investment and sustainable jobs'. He says this will create 10 million jobs in Africa over the next five years.
🚨BREXIT KLAXON 🚨 Juncker puts Chequers economic plan to the sword: 'We ask UK to understand someone who leaves EU can't be in same privileged position as a member state. If you leave EU you're of course no longer part of our Single Market & certainly not only in parts of it.'
Juncker says: 'We agree with the statement made in Chequers that the starting point for such a partnership should be a free trade area between the UK and the EU.' Warning: The EU and UK have *very* different ideas about what a 'free trade area' actually entails.
Juncker's statement on Brexit. He bristles at suggestions the Commission are being hardliners standing in the way of the UK and Member States sealing a deal. He trashes the economic part of Chequers and puts the blame squarely on the UK for the Irish border and risk of no deal.
Juncker gets two big rounds of applause by proposing to do away with the requirement for unanimity of Member States in the areas of foreign policy and taxation, allowing the EU to legislate by QMV. Neither has a hope in hell of getting past national capitals, you'd have thought.
Juncker thanks MEPs for applauding sections of his speech because 'that gives me an opportunity to drink'. Some laugh in a nod to J-C's long rumoured fondness for alcohol. To be fair he takes it in good humour and grins along with them.
Clear message to Hungary: 'Commission will resist any attack on Rule of Law & we continue to be very concerned by developments in some of our Member States. Article 7 must be applied whenever the rule of law is threatened.' MEPs, expected to vote for A7 trigger later, lap it up.
Juncker: 'Europe can no longer be a spectator or a mere commentator of international events. Europe must be an active player and must become an architect of tomorrow's world. Europe's diplomacy must be conducted in the singular.'
Juncker ends with a plea against nationalism: 'To love Europe is to love its nations, to love your nation is to love Europe. Patriotism is a virtue, unchecked nationalism is both riddled with poison and deceit. We must remain true to ourselves.'

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More from @nickgutteridge

Oct 2, 2018
EP Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, goes on the attack against Brexiteers. He starts, of course, with Boris Johnson, branding the former Foreign Secretary's plan to build a bridge to Northern Ireland 'insane'. He quips: 'Mr Johnson is more known for burning bridges.'
Next in his sights is Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is 'saying I have the proposal for the future of Brexit, the ordinary citizens can be secured, their savings will be secure, and in the meanwhile he's opening himself an investment fund in Ireland to transfer his money to Ireland.'
And of course Jeremy Hunt (who voted Remain) gets it too over his comparison of the EU to the Soviet Union. The Hof jokes: 'He once confused Japan with China so that is not a first time this is happening. The previous time he was insulting his wife but here it was far different.'
Read 4 tweets
Oct 2, 2018
EPP Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber, who is chairman of the centre-right EPP grouping, says Jeremy Hunt should apologise for comparing the EU to the Soviet Union. Reaction to the foreign secretary's disastrous speech spills over into a second day.
Weber adds the citizens' rights chapter of the Withdrawal Agreement should be ring fenced if there's no deal: 'We must find a way to guarantee the legal status of these citizens even in the case of a hard Brexit. We need the idea of a ring fencing agreement.'
(Reminder: Theresa May has basically made a political commitment to do this already. The EU has been silent, and it's probably Member States and the Commission who Weber is really aiming his remarks at)
Read 6 tweets
Sep 20, 2018
Salzburg presser with Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Council president Donald Tusk and Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker starting now. Kurz says UK and EU must ‘move towards each other’ to avoid a no deal Brexit.
Oof. Tusk: 'Eeverybody shared view that while there are positive elements in Chequers proposal, suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work not least because it risks undermining the Single Market.' That'll hurt May coming from him for a change rather than Barnier.
Tusk also says EU leaders will only decide to hold an emergency November summit, which is really wanted by the Brits, if there is 'maximum progress' in the talks in October. Member States turning the screw on May.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 18, 2018
EU leaders won't issue new instructions to Barnier on trade in Salzburg. But a top official says they will do so in October: 'If we take the timetable seriously, and we do, then in Oct we need to come back with something on paper, the EU position based on the debate in Salzburg.'
At Salzburg leaders will develop a 'common understanding' on what the political declaration will say, but they're also expected to issue a strongly worded reminder that without agreement on the Irish backstop there will be no Withdrawal Agreement, no transition and no trade deal.
The discussion on trade will be dominated by whether or not that declaration on trade should be very detailed or deliberately vague, which officials say leaders are still undecided on. One says: 'This is going to be at this stage at the core of the debate in Salzburg.'
Read 5 tweets
Aug 21, 2018
Michel Barnier says U.K. and EU will negotiate ‘continuously’ between now and next March. ‘The negotiations are now entering the final stage’, he warns.
Barnier says EU and UK are much closer to a deal on foreign policy, defence and security than on trade. But says compromise for an ‘unprecedented’ partnership can be reached.
Dominic Raab says there are still big differences between the UK and EU and that the pair had an ‘honest’ chat about that. But he adds: ‘If we have that ambition, pragmatism and energy on both sides I’m confident we can reach a deal.’
Read 5 tweets
Jul 16, 2018
1/ Just caught up with Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones on his way out of a meeting with Michel Barnier. Snap reflection: ‘I think the UK and the EU are a long way from an agreement. Time’s running out.’
2/ He presented Barnier with the Welsh government’s Brexit plan which involves staying in the Customs Union but reforming Freedom of Movement to tie the right to reside to having a job offer. In return, MB was tight-lipped on what he thinks of Govt’s White Paper.
3/ CJ stressed to MB dangers of no deal: ‘Last thing we want is to crash out of EU - in nobody’s interest. People in Britain didn't vote for a mess. They voted for something to be done properly not something that would cause a huge mess and would jeapordize jobs.’
Read 8 tweets

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