General Market

State of the Union Address 2016: Towards a better Europe – a Europe that protects, empowers and defends

[AUTHORISED VERSION]

Mr President,

Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

I stood here a year ago and I told you that the State of our Union was not good. I told you that there is not enough Europe in this Union. And that there is not enough Union in this Union.

I am not going to stand here today and tell you that everything is now fine.

It is not.

Let us all be very honest in our diagnosis.

Our European Union is, at least in part, in an existential crisis.

Over the summer, I listened carefully to Members of this Parliament, to government representatives, to many national Parliamentarians and to the ordinary Europeans who shared their thoughts with me.

I have witnessed several decades of EU integration. There were many strong moments. Of course, there were many difficult times too, and times of crisis.

But never before have I seen such little common ground between our Member States. So few areas where they agree to work together.

Never before have I heard so many leaders speak only of their domestic problems, with Europe mentioned only in passing, if at all.

Never before have I seen representatives of the EU institutions setting very different priorities, sometimes in direct opposition to national governments and national Parliaments. It is as if there is almost no intersection between the EU and its national capitals anymore.

Never before have I seen national governments so weakened by the forces of populism and paralysed by the risk of defeat in the next elections.

Never before have I seen so much fragmentation, and so little commonality in our Union.

We now have a very important choice to make.

Do we give in to a very natural feeling of frustration? Do we allow ourselves to become collectively depressed? Do we want to let our Union unravel before our eyes?

Or do we say: Is this not the time to pull ourselves together? Is this not the time to roll up our sleeves and double, triple our efforts? Is this not the time when Europe needs more determined leadership than ever, rather than politicians abandoning ship?

Our reflections on the State of the Union must start with a sense of realism and with great honesty.

First of all, we should admit that we have many unresolved problems in Europe. There can be no doubt about this.

From high unemployment and social inequality, to mountains of public debt, to the huge challenge of integrating refugees, to the very real threats to our security at home and abroad – every one of Europe’s Member States has been affected by the continuing crises of our times.

We are even faced with the unhappy prospect of a member leaving our ranks.

Secondly, we should be aware that the world is watching us.

I just came back from the G20 meeting in China. Europe occupies 7 chairs at the table of this important global gathering. Despite our big presence, there were more questions than we had common answers to.

Will Europe still be able to conclude trade deals and shape economic, social and environmental standards for the world?

Will Europe’s economy finally recover or be stuck in low growth and low inflation for the next decade?

Will Europe still be a world leader when it comes to the fight for human rights and fundamental values?

Will Europe speak up, with one voice, when territorial integrity is under threat, in violation of international law?

Or will Europe disappear from the international scene and leave it to others to shape the world?

I know that you here in this House would be only too willing to give clear answers to these questions. But we need our words to be followed by joint action. Otherwise, they will be just that: words. And with words alone, you cannot shape international affairs.

Thirdly, we should recognise that we cannot solve all our problems with one more speech. Or with one more summit.

This is not the United States of America, where the President gives a State of the Union speech to both Houses of Congress, and millions of citizens follow his every word, live on television.

In comparison to this, our State of the Union moment here in Europe shows very visibly the incomplete nature of our Union. I am speaking today in front of the European Parliament. And separately, on Friday, I will meet with the national leaders in Bratislava.

So my speech can not only compete for your applause, ignoring what national leaders will say on Friday. I also cannot go to Bratislava with a different message than I have for you. I have to take into account both levels of democracy of our Union, which are both equally important.

We are not the United States of Europe. Our European Union is much more complex. And ignoring this complexity would be a mistake that would lead us to the wrong solutions.

Europe can only work if speeches supporting our common project are not only delivered in this honourable House, but also in the Parliaments of all our Member States.

Europe can only work if we all work for unity and commonality, and forget the rivalry between competences and institutions. Only then will Europe be more than the sum of its parts. And only then can Europe be stronger and better than it is today. Only then will leaders of the EU institutions and national governments be able to regain the trust of Europe’s citizens in our common project.

Because Europeans are tired of the endless disputes, quarrels and bickering.

Europeans want concrete solutions to the very pertinent problem that our Union is facing. And they want more than promises, resolutions and summit conclusions. They have heard and seen these too often.

Europeans want common decisions followed by swift and efficient implementation.

Yes, we need a vision for the long term. And the Commission will set out such a vision for the future in a White Paper in March 2017, in time for the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. We will address how to strengthen and reform our Economic and Monetary Union. And we will also take into account the political and democratic challenges our Union of 27 will be facing in the future. And of course, the European Parliament will be closely involved in this process, as will national Parliaments.

But a vision alone will not suffice. What our citizens need much more is that someone governs. That someone responds to the challenges of our time.

Europe is a cord of many strands – it only works when we are all pulling in the same direction: EU institutions, national governments and national Parliaments alike. And we have to show again that this is possible, in a selected number of areas where common solutions are most urgent.

I am therefore proposing a positive agenda of concrete European actions for the next twelve months.

Because I believe the next twelve months are decisive if we want to reunite our Union. If we want to overcome the tragic divisions between East and West which have opened up in recent months. If we want to show that we can be fast and decisive on the things that really matter. If we want to show to the world that Europe is still a force capable of joint action.

We have to get to work.

I sent a letter with this message to President Schulz and Prime Minister Fico this morning.

The next twelve months are the crucial time to deliver a better Europe:

a Europe that protects;

a Europe that preserves the European way of life;

a Europe that empowers our citizens,

a Europe that defends at home and abroad; and

a Europe that takes responsibility.

A EUROPE THAT PRESERVES OUR WAY OF LIFE

I am convinced the European way of life is something worth preserving.

I have the impression that many seem to have forgotten what being European means.

What it means to be part of this Union of Europeans – what it is the farmer in Lithuania has in common with the single mother in Zagreb, the nurse in Valetta or the student in Maastricht.

To remember why Europe’s nations chose to work together.

To remember why crowds celebrated solidarity in the streets of Warsaw on 1 May 2004.

To remember why the European flag waved proudly in Puerta del Sol on 1 January 1986.

To remember that Europe is a driving force that can help bring about the unification of Cyprus – something I am supporting the two leaders of Cyprus in.

Above all, Europe means peace. It is no coincidence that the longest period of peace in written history in Europe started with the formation of the European Communities.

70 years of lasting peace in Europe. In a world with 40 active armed conflicts, which claim the lives of 170,000 people every year.

Of course we still have our differences. Yes, we often have controversy. Sometimes we fight. But we fight with words. And we settle our conflicts around the table, not in trenches.

An integral part of our European way of life is our values.

The values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law. Values fought for on battlefields and soapboxes over centuries.

We Europeans can never accept Polish workers being harassed, beaten up or even murdered on the streets of Harlow. The free movement of workers is as much a common European value as our fight against discrimination and racism.

We Europeans stand firmly against the death penalty. Because we believe in and respect the value of human life.

We Europeans also believe in independent, effective justice systems. Independent courts keep governments, companies and people in check. Effective justice systems support economic growth and defend fundamental rights. That is why Europe promotes and defends the rule of law.

Being European also means being open and trading with our neighbours, instead of going to war with them. It means being the world’s biggest trading bloc, with trade agreements in place or under negotiation with over 140 partners across the globe.

And trade means jobs – for every €1 billion we get in exports, 14,000 extra jobs are created across the EU. And more than 30 million jobs, 1 in 7 of all jobs in the EU, now depend on exports to the rest of the world.

That is why Europe is working to open up markets with Canada – one of our closest partners and one which shares our interests, our values, our respect for the rule of law and our understanding of cultural diversity. The EU-Canada trade agreement is the best and most progressive deal the EU has ever negotiated. And I will work with you and with all Member States to see this agreement ratified as soon as possible.

Being European means the right to have your personal data protected by strong, European laws. Because Europeans do not like drones overhead recording their every move, or companies stockpiling their every mouse click. This is why Parliament, Council and Commission agreed in May this year a common European Data Protection Regulation. This is a strong European law that applies to companies wherever they are based and whenever they are processing your data. Because in Europe, privacy matters. This is a question of human dignity.

Being European also means a fair playing field.

This means that workers should get the same pay for the same work in the same place. This is a question of social justice. And this is why the Commission stands behind our proposal on the Posting of Workers Directive. The internal market is not a place where Eastern European workers can be exploited or subjected to lower social standards. Europe is not the Wild West, but a social market economy.

A fair playing field also means that in Europe, consumers are protected against cartels and abuses by powerful companies. And that every company, no matter how big or small, has to pay its taxes where it makes its profits. This goes for giants like Apple too, even if their market value is higher than the GDP of 165 countries in the world. In Europe we do not accept powerful companies getting illegal backroom deals on their taxes.

The level of taxation in a country like Ireland is not our issue. Ireland has the sovereign right to set the tax level wherever it wants. But it is not right that one company can evade taxes that could have gone to Irish families and businesses, hospitals and schools. The Commission watches over this fairness. This is the social side of competition law. And this is what Europe stands for.

Being European also means a culture that protects our workers and our industries in an increasingly globalised world. Like the thousands who risk losing their jobs in Gosselies in Belgium – it is thanks to EU legislation that the company will now need to engage in a true social dialogue. And workers and local authorities can count on European solidarity and the help of EU funds.

Being European also means standing up for our steel industry. We already have 37 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in place to protect our steel industry from unfair competition. But we need to do more, as overproduction in some parts of the world is putting European producers out of business. This is why I was in China twice this year to address the issue of overcapacity. This is also why the Commission has proposed to change the lesser duty rule. The United States imposes a 265% import tariff on Chinese steel, but here in Europe, some governments have for years insisted we reduce tariffs on Chinese steel. I call on all Member States and on this Parliament to support the Commission in strengthening our trade defence instruments. We should not be naïve free traders, but be able to respond as forcefully to dumping as the United States.

A strong part of our European way of life that I want to preserve is our agricultural sector. The Commission will always stand by our farmers, particularly when they go through difficult moments as is the case today. Last year, the dairy sector was hit with a ban imposed by Russia. This is why the Commission mobilised €1 billion in support of milk farmers to help them get back on their feet. Because I will not accept that milk is cheaper than water.

Being European, for most of us, also means the euro. During the global financial crisis, the euro stayed strong and protected us from even worse instability. The euro is a leading world currency, and it brings huge, often invisible economic benefits. Euro area countries saved €50 billion this year in interest payments, thanks to the European Central Bank’s monetary policy. €50 billion extra that our finance ministers can and should invest into the economy.

Mario Draghi is preserving the stability of our currency. And he is making a stronger contribution to jobs and growth than many of our Member States.

Yes, we Europeans suffered under a historic financial and debt crisis. But the truth is that while public deficits stood at 6.3% on average in the euro area in 2009, today they are below 2%.

Over the last three years, almost 8 million more people found a job. 1 million in Spain alone, a country which continues to show an impressive recovery from the crisis.

I wish all this was recalled more often – everywhere in Europe where elected politicians take the floor.

Because in our incomplete Union, there is no European leadership that can substitute national leadership.

European nations have to defend the rationale for unity. No one can do it for them.

They can.

We can be united even though we are diverse.

The great, democratic nations of Europe must not bend to the winds of populism.

Europe must not cower in the face of terrorism.

No – Member States must build a Europe that protects. And we, the European institutions, must help them deliver this promise.

A EUROPE THAT EMPOWERS

The European Union should not only preserve our European way of life but empower those living it.

We need to work for a Europe that empowers our citizens and our economy. And today, both have gone digital.

Digital technologies and digital communications are permeating every aspect of life.

All they require is access to high-speed internet. We need to be connected. Our economy needs it. People need it.

And we have to invest in that connectivity now.

That is why today, the Commission is proposing a reform for our European telecommunications markets. We want to create a new legal framework that attracts and enables investments in connectivity.

Businesses should be able to plan their investments in Europe for the next 20 years. Because if we invest in new networks and services, that is at least 1.3 million new jobs over the next decade.

Connectivity should benefit everyone.

That is why today the Commission is proposing to fully deploy 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication systems, across the European Union by 2025. This has the potential to create a further two million jobs in the EU.

Everyone benefiting from connectivity means that it should not matter where you live or how much you earn.

So we propose today to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020.

As the world goes digital, we also have to empower our artists and creators and protect their works.Artists and creators are our crown jewels. The creation of content is not a hobby. It is a profession. And it is part of our European culture.

I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work, whether it is made in studios or living rooms, whether it is disseminated offline or online, whether it is published via a copying machine or hyperlinked on the web.

The overhaul of Europe’s copyright rules we are proposing today does exactly that.

Empowering our economy means investing not just in connectivity, but in job creation.

That is why Europe must invest strongly in its youth, in its jobseekers, in its start-ups.

The €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe, which we agreed together here in this House just twelve months ago, has already raised €116 billion in investments – from Latvia to Luxembourg – in its first year of operation.

Over 200,000 small firms and start-ups across Europe got loans. And over 100,000 people got new jobs. Thanks to the new European Fund for Strategic Investments I proposed, my Commission developed, and you here in the European Parliament supported and adopted in record time.

And now we will take it further. Today, we propose to double the duration of the Fund and double its financial capacity.

With your support, we will make sure that our European Investment Fund will provide a total of at least €500 billionhalf a trillion – of investments by 2020. And we will work beyond that to reach €630 billion by 2022. Of course, with Member States contributing, we can get there even faster.

Alongside these efforts to attract private investment, we also need to create the right environment to invest in.

European banks are in much better shape than two years ago, thanks to our joint European efforts. Europe needs its banks. But an economy almost entirely dependent on bank credit is bad for financial stability. It is also bad for business, as we saw during the financial crisis. That is why it is now urgent we accelerate our work on the Capital Markets Union. The Commission is putting a concrete roadmap for this on your table today.

A Capital Markets Union will make our financial system more resilient. It will give companies easier and more diversified access to finance. Imagine a Finnish start-up that cannot get a bank loan. Right now, the options are very limited. The Capital Markets Union will offer alternative, vital sources of funding to help start-ups get started – business angels, venture capital, market financing.

To just mention one example – almost a year ago we put a proposal on the table that will make it easier for banks to provide loans. It has the potential of freeing up €100 billion of additional finance for EU businesses. So let us please speed up its adoption.

Our European Investment Plan worked better than anyone expected inside Europe, and now we are going to take it global. Something many of you and many Member States have called for.

Today we are launching an ambitious Investment Plan for Africa and the Neighbourhood which has the potential to raise €44 billion in investments. It can go up to €88 billion if Member States pitch in.

The logic is the same that worked well for the internal Investment Plan: we will be using public funding as a guarantee to attract public and private investment to create real jobs.

This will complement our development aid and help address one of the root causes of migration. With economic growth in developing countries at its lowest level since 2003, this is crucial. The new Plan will offer lifelines for those who would otherwise be pushed to take dangerous journeys in search of a better life.

As much as we invest in improving conditions abroad, we also need to invest in responding to humanitarian crises back home. And, more than anything, we need to invest in our young people.

I cannot and will not accept that Europe is and remains the continent of youth unemployment.

I cannot and will not accept that the millennials, Generation Y, might be the first generation in 70 years to be poorer than their parents.

Of course, this is mainly a task of national governments. But the European Union can support their efforts. We are doing this with the EU Youth Guarantee that was launched three years ago. My Commission enhanced the effectiveness and sped up delivery of the Youth Guarantee. More than 9 million young people have already benefitted from this programme. That is 9 million young people who got a job, traineeship or apprenticeship because of the EU. And we will continue to roll out the Youth Guarantee across Europe, improving the skillset of Europeans and reaching out to the regions and young people most in need.

The European Union can also contribute by helping create more opportunities for young people.

There are many young, socially-minded people in Europe willing to make a meaningful contribution to society and help show solidarity.

Solidarity is the glue that keeps our Union together.

The word solidarity appears 16 times in the Treaties which all our Member States agreed and ratified.

Our European budget is living proof of financial solidarity.

There is impressive solidarity when it comes to jointly applying European sanctions when Russia violates international law.

The euro is an expression of solidarity.

Our development policy is a strong external sign of solidarity.

And when it comes to managing the refugee crisis, we have started to see solidarity. I am convinced much more solidarity is needed. But I also know that solidarity must be given voluntarily. It must come from the heart. It cannot be forced.

We often show solidarity most readily when faced with emergencies.

When the Portuguese hills were burning, Italian planes doused the flames.

When floods cut off the power in Romania, Swedish generators turned the lights back on.

When thousands of refugees arrived on Greek shores, Slovakian tents provided shelter.

In the same spirit, the Commission is proposing today to set up a European Solidarity Corps. Young people across the EU will be able to volunteer their help where it is needed most, to respond to crisis situations, like the refugee crisis or the recent earthquakes in Italy.

I want this European Solidarity Corps up and running by the end of the year. And by 2020, to see the first 100,000 young Europeans taking part.

By voluntarily joining the European Solidarity Corps, these young people will be able to develop their skills and get not only work but also invaluable human experience.

A EUROPE THAT DEFENDS

A Europe that protects is a Europe that defends – at home and abroad.

We must defend ourselves against terrorism.

Since the Madrid bombing of 2004, there have been more than 30 terrorist attacks in Europe – 14 in the last year alone. More than 600 innocent people died in cities like Paris, Brussels, Nice, or Ansbach.

Just as we have stood shoulder to shoulder in grief, so must we stand united in our response.

The barbaric acts of the past year have shown us again what we are fighting for – the European way of life. In face of the worst of humanity we have to stay true to our values, to ourselves. And what we are is democratic societies, plural societies, open and tolerant.

But that tolerance cannot come at the price of our security.

That is why my Commission has prioritised security from day one – we criminalised terrorism and foreign fighters across the EU, we cracked down on the use of firearms and on terrorist financing, we worked with internet companies to get terrorist propaganda offline and we fought radicalisation in Europe’s schools and prisons.

But there is more to be done.

We need to know who is crossing our borders.

That is why we will defend our borders with the new European Border and Coast Guard, which is now being formalised by Parliament and Council, just nine months after the Commission proposed it. Frontex already has over 600 agents on the ground at the borders with Turkey in Greece and over 100 in Bulgaria. Now, the EU institutions and the Member States should work very closely together to quickly help set up the new Agency. I want to see at least 200 extra border guards and 50 extra vehicles deployed at the Bulgarian external borders as of October.

We will defend our borders, as well, with strict controls, adopted by the end of the year, on everyone crossing them. Every time someone enters or exits the EU, there will be a record of when, where and why.

By November, we will propose a European Travel Information System – an automated system to determine who will be allowed to travel to Europe. This way we will know who is travelling to Europe before they even get here.

And we all need that information. How many times have we heard stories over the last months that the information existed in one database in one country, but it never found its way to the authority in another that could have made the difference?

Border security also means that information and intelligence exchange must be prioritised. For this, we will reinforce Europol – our European agency supporting national law enforcement – by giving it better access to databases and more resources. A counter terrorism unit that currently has a staff of 60 cannot provide the necessary 24/7 support.

A Europe that protects also defends our interests beyond our borders.

The facts are plain: The world is getting bigger. And we are getting smaller.

Today we Europeans make up 8% of the world population – we will only represent 5% in 2050. By then you would not see a single EU country among the top world economies. But the EU together? We would still be topping the charts.

Our enemies would like us to fragment.

Our competitors would benefit from our division.

Only together are we and will we remain a force to be reckoned with.

Still, even though Europe is proud to be a soft power of global importance, we must not be naïve. Soft power is not enough in our increasingly dangerous neighbourhood.

Take the brutal fight over Syria. Its consequences for Europe are immediate. Attacks in our cities by terrorists trained in Daesh camps. But where is the Union, where are its Member States, in negotiations towards a settlement?

Federica Mogherini, our High Representative and my Vice-President, is doing a fantastic job. But she needs to become our European Foreign Minister via whom all diplomatic services, of big and small countries alike, pool their forces to achieve leverage in international negotiations. This is why I call today for a European Strategy for Syria. Federica should have a seat at the table when the future of Syria is being discussed. So that Europe can help rebuild a peaceful Syrian nation and a pluralistic, tolerant civil society in Syria.

Europe needs to toughen up. Nowhere is this truer than in our defence policy.

Europe can no longer afford to piggy-back on the military might of others or let France alone defend its honour in Mali.

We have to take responsibility for protecting our interests and the European way of life.

Over the last decade, we have engaged in over 30 civilian and military EU missions from Africa to Afghanistan. But without a permanent structure we cannot act effectively. Urgent operations are delayed. We have separate headquarters for parallel missions, even when they happen in the same country or city. It is time we had a single headquarters for these operations.

We should also move towards common military assets, in some cases owned by the EU. And, of course, in full complementarity with NATO.

The business case is clear. The lack of cooperation in defence matters costs Europe between €25 billion and €100 billion per year, depending on the areas concerned. We could use that money for so much more.

It can be done. We are building a multinational fleet of air tankers. Let’s replicate this example.

For European defence to be strong, the European defence industry needs to innovate. That is why we will propose before the end of the year a European Defence Fund, to turbo boost research and innovation.

The Lisbon Treaty enables those Member States who wish, to pool their defence capabilities in the form of a permanent structured cooperation. I think the time to make use of this possibility is now. And I hope that our meeting at 27 in Bratislava a few days from now will be the first, political step in that direction.

Because it is only by working together that Europe will be able to defend itself at home and abroad.

A EUROPE THAT TAKES RESPONSIBILITY

The last point I want to make is about responsibility. About taking responsibility for building this Europe that protects.

I call on all EU institutions and on all of our Member States to take responsibility.

We have to stop with the same old story that success is national, and failure European. Or our common project will not survive.

We need to remember the sense of purpose of our Union. I therefore call on each of the 27 leaders making their way to Bratislava to think of three reasons why we need the European Union. Three things they are willing to take responsibility for defending. And that they are willing to deliver swiftly afterwards.

Slow delivery on promises made is a phenomenon that more and more risks undermining the Union’s credibility. Take the Paris agreement. We Europeans are the world leaders on climate action. It was Europe that brokered the first-ever legally binding, global climate deal. It was Europe that built the coalition of ambition that made agreement in Paris possible. But Europe is now struggling to show the way and be amongst the first to ratify our agreement. Only France, Austria and Hungary have ratified it so far.

I call on all Member States and on this Parliament to do your part in the next weeks, not months. We should be faster. Let’s get the Paris agreement ratified now. It can be done. It is a question of political will. And it is about Europe’s global influence.

The European institutions too, have to take responsibility.

I have asked each of my Commissioners to be ready to discuss, in the next two weeks, the State of our Union in the national Parliaments of the countries they each know best. Since the beginning of my mandate, my Commissioners have made over 350 visits to national Parliaments. And I want them to do this even more now. Because Europe can only be built with the Member States, never against them.

We also have to take responsibility in recognising when some decisions are not for us to take. It is not right that when EU countries cannot decide among themselves whether or not to ban the use of glyphosate in herbicides, the Commission is forced by Parliament and Council to take a decision.

So we will change those rules – because that is not democracy.

The Commission has to take responsibility by being political, and not technocratic.

A political Commission is one that listens to the European Parliament, listens to all Member States, and listens to the people.

And it is us listening that motivated my Commission to withdraw 100 proposals in our first two years of office, to present 80% fewer initiatives than over the past 5 years and to launch a thorough review of all existing legislation. Because only by focusing on where Europe can provide real added value and deliver results, we will be able to make Europe a better, more trusted place.

Being political also means correcting technocratic mistakes immediately when they happen. The Commission, the Parliament and the Council have jointly decided to abolish mobile roaming charges. This is a promise we will deliver. Not just for business travellers who go abroad for two days. Not only for the holiday maker who spends two weeks in the sun. But for our cross-border workers. And for the millions of Erasmus students who spend their studies abroad for one or two semesters. I have therefore withdrawn a draft that a well-meaning official designed over the summer. The draft was not technically wrong. But it missed the point of what was promised. And you will see a new, better draft as of next week. When you roam, it should be like at home.

Being political is also what allows us to implement the Stability and Growth Pact with common sense. The Pact’s creation was influenced by theory. Its application has become a doctrine for many. And today, the Pact is a dogma for some. In theory, a single decimal point over 60 percent in a country’s debt should be punished. But in reality, you have to look at the reasons for debt. We should try to support and not punish ongoing reform efforts. For this we need responsible politicians. And we will continue to apply the Pact not in a dogmatic manner, but with common sense and with the flexibility that we wisely built into the rules.

Finally, taking responsibility also means holding ourselves accountable to voters. That is why we will propose to change the absurd rule that Commissioners have to step down from their functions when they want to run in European elections. The German Chancellor, the Czech, Danish or Estonian, Prime Minister do not stop doing their jobs when they run for re-election. Neither should Commissioners. If we want a Commission that responds to the needs of the real world, we should encourage Commissioners to seek the necessary rendez-vous with democracy. And not prevent this.

CONCLUSION

Honourable Members,

I am as young as the European project that turns 60 next years in March 2017.

I have lived it, worked for it, my whole life.

My father believed in Europe because he believed in stability, workers’ rights and social progress.

Because he understood all too well that peace in Europe was precious – and fragile.

I believe in Europe because my father taught me those same values.

But what are we teaching our children now? What will they inherit from us? A Union that unravels in disunity? A Union that has forgotten its past and has no vision for the future?

Our children deserve better.

They deserve a Europe that preserves their way of life.

They deserve a Europe that empowers and defends them.

They deserve a Europe that protects.

It is time we – the institutions, the governments, the citizens – all took responsibility for building that Europe. Together.

General Market

Key messages of the State of the Union address

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker today delivered his 2016 State of the Union address, before the Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, taking stock of achievements of the past year and presenting his priorities for the year ahead. He outlined how the Commission will address the most pressing challenges the European Union is facing.

President Juncker said today: “The next twelve months are decisive if we want to reunite our Union. Europe is a cord of many strands – it only works when we are all pulling in the same direction: EU institutions, national governments and national Parliaments alike. And we have to show again that this is possible, in a selected number of areas where common solutions are most urgent. I am therefore proposing a positive agenda of concrete European actions for the next twelve months.”

President Juncker’s speech in the European Parliament was accompanied by the adoption of concrete initiatives by the European Commission on investment, the Digital Single Market, Capital Markets Union and security, putting words immediately into action.

Key messages of the State of the Union 2016

Europe at a critical juncture

“Europe can only work if we all work for unity and commonality, and forget the rivalry between competences and institutions. Only then will Europe be more than the sum of its parts.”

“European nations have to defend the rationale for unity. No one can do it for them.”

“The great, democratic nations of Europe must not bend to the winds of populism. Europe must not cower in the face of terrorism. No, Member States must build a Europe that protects.”

Preserving the European Way of Life

Free Movement: “We Europeans can never accept Polish workers being harassed, beaten up or even murdered on the streets of Harlow. The free movement of workers is as much a common European value as our fight against discrimination and racism.”

Death penalty: “We Europeans stand firmly against the death penalty. Because we believe in and respect the value of human life.”

Trade: “The EU-Canada trade agreement is the best and most progressive deal the EU has ever negotiated. I will work with you and with all Member States to see this agreement ratified as soon as possible.”

Data protection: “Europeans do not like drones overhead recording their every move, or companies stockpiling their every mouse click. In Europe, privacy matters. This is a question of human dignity.”

Posting of workers: “Workers should get the same pay for the same work in the same place. Europe is not the Wild West, but a social market economy.”

Competition:In Europe, consumers are protected against cartels and abuses by powerful companies. This goes for giants like Apple too. In Europe we do not accept powerful companies getting illegal backroom deals on their taxes. The Commission watches over this fairness. This is the social side of competition law.”

Steel industry: “We already have 37 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures in place to protect our steel industry from unfair competition. But we need to do more. I call on all Member States and on this Parliament to support the Commission in strengthening our trade defence instruments. We should not be naïve free traders, but be able to respond as forcefully to dumping as the United States.”

Agricultural sector: “The Commission will always stand by our farmers, particularly when they go through difficult moments as is the case today. Because I will not accept that milk is cheaper than water.”

A Europe that Empowers

Copyright: “I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work, whether it is made in studios or living rooms, whether it is disseminated offline or online, whether it is published via a copying machine or commercially hyperlinked on the web.”

Connectivity: “We propose today to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020.”

Investment and Jobs: “Europe must invest strongly in its youth, in its jobseekers, in its start-ups. Today, we propose to double the duration of the European Fund for Strategic Investments and double its financial capacity.”

“I cannot and will not accept that the millennials, Generation Y, might be the first generation in 70 years to be poorer than their parents.”

Solidarity: “Solidarity is the glue that keeps our Union together. But I also know that solidarity must be given voluntarily. It must come from the heart. It cannot be forced.”

Migration: “Today we are launching an ambitious Investment Plan for Africa and the Neighbourhood which has the potential to raise €44 billion in investments. It can go up to €88 billion if Member States pitch in. The new Investment Plan for Africa and the Neighbourhood will offer lifelines for those who would otherwise be pushed to take dangerous journeys in search of a better life.”

A Europe that Defends

Terrorism: “Just as we have stood shoulder to shoulder in grief, so must we stand united in our response.”

“In face of the worst of humanity we have to stay true to our values, to ourselves. And what we are is democratic societies, plural societies, open and tolerant. But that tolerance cannot come at the price of our security.”

Security: “We will defend our borders with the new European Border and Coast Guard. I want to see at least 200 extra border guards and 50 extra vehicles deployed at the Bulgarian external borders as of October.”

Global Europe: “Europe can no longer afford to piggy-back on the military might of others or let France alone defend its honour in Mali.”

“For European defence to be strong, the European defence industry needs to innovate. That is why we will propose before the end of the year a European Defence Fund, to turbo boost research and innovation.”

A European Strategy Syria: “Federica Mogherini, our High Representative and my Vice-President, is doing a fantastic job. But she needs to become our European Foreign Minister via whom all diplomatic services, of big and small countries alike, pool their forces to achieve leverage in international negotiations. This is why I call today for a European Strategy for Syria.”

A Defence Union: “Europe needs to toughen up. Nowhere is this truer than in our defence policy. The Lisbon Treaty enables those Member States who wish, to pool their defence capabilities in the form of a permanent structured cooperation. I think the time to make use of this possibility is now.”

A Europe that takes responsibility

“I call on each of the 27 leaders making their way to Bratislava to think of three reasons why we need the European Union. Three things they are willing to take responsibility for defending. And that they are willing to deliver swiftly afterwards.”

“I have asked each of my Commissioners to be ready to discuss, in the next two weeks, the State of our Union in the national Parliaments of the countries they each know best. Because Europe can only be built with the Member States, never against them.”

“It is not right that when EU countries cannot decide among themselves whether or not to ban the use of glyphosate in herbicides, the Commission is forced by Parliament and Council to take a decision. So we will change those rules – because that is not democracy.”

“Being political means correcting technocratic mistakes immediately when they happen. The Commission, the Parliament and the Council have jointly decided to abolish mobile roaming charges. This is a promise we will deliver. Not just for business travellers who go abroad for two days. Not only for the holiday maker who spends two weeks in the sun. But for our cross-border workers. And for the millions of Erasmus students who spend their studies abroad for one or two semesters. You will see a new, better draft as of next week. When you roam, it should be like at home.”

“Taking responsibility also means holding ourselves accountable to voters. That is why we will propose to change the absurd rule that Commissioners have to step down from their functions when they want to run in European elections. We should encourage Commissioners to seek the necessary rendez-vous with democracy. And not prevent this.”

Background

Every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers his State of the Union speech before the European Parliament. The speech is followed by a plenary debate with Members of the European Parliament. The speech kick-starts the dialogue with the Parliament and Council to prepare the Commission Work Programme for the following year. In addition, President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans sent today a Letter of Intent to European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, holder of the rotating Presidency of the Council to outline the concrete initiatives the Commission is planning to take in the months to come. This is specifically foreseen in the 2010 Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission.

This year’s State of the Union address also constitutes the European Commission’s contribution to the informal meeting of the 27 Heads of State or Government in Bratislava on 16 September 2016.

For more information

2016 State of the Union brochure including:

  • The authorised State of the Union Address
  • The Letter of Intent
  • Progress on the Commission’s ten priorities

State of the Union 2016 web page

The 10 political priorities of the European Commission

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

2015 State of the Union

General Market

Time to vote in the historic EU Referendum

BRITAIN goes to the polls today to make what is being hailed as the most important decision in a generation.

Millions of voters will finally get to have their say on whether we should stay in the European Union or become the first member state to break away and go it alone.

Both sides in the debate agree that the outcome of the referendum will shape the nation’s future for decades to come.

Brexit supporters claim Britain is being held back by the EU which, they say, is imposing too many rules on the UK as well as fuelling immigration and taking £350 million out of the economy every week.

But Remain campaigners say Britain is more secure as a result of being part of the 28-nation club.

They also insist that the flow of immigrants, many of whom are described as young and keen to work, boosts the economy and helps pay for public services.

With both sides neck and neck in the polls, key campaigners in the debate spent yesterday criss-crossing the UK in a last-minute scrabble for votes.

Top politicians urged everyone to take part in the referendum, describing it as a critical moment in the nation’s history.

Government minister Michael Gove, who chairs the Vote Leave campaign, visited Southampton yesterday as part of a whistle stop tour of Hampshire and Dorset.

Mr Gove claimed that the result would be decided on the south coast, describing Southampton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth as a microcosm of the UK.

Most of the shoppers and traders he spoke to said they would be voting in favour of Britain leaving the EU.

Mr Gove called for a high turnout, describing the referendum as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “take back control” of Britain and put power into the hands of people who could be removed from office if they failed to achieve what was needed.

Accompanied by Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, the justice secretary claimed to be optimistic but admitted that the result was too close to call.

“People are split down the middle and every vote will count,” he said.

Meanwhile Hampshire businesses were among 1,200 businesses who signed an open letter backing the remain campaign.

Niamh Barker, pictured left, founder of the Travelwrap Company in New Milton was one who said she had never felt so strongly about an issue. The former pharmacist accused both sides of the debate of pedalling misinformation but said that the Brexit side were guilty of telling lies about Turkey entering the EU and promoting xenophobia over the migration issue.

She told the Echo: “A lot of people are voting with their emotions and not their heads and that’s not the right decision-making process when it comes to an issue which all our kids’ futures depend upon.

“To become a little island on our own is such a backward step.

“It’s our EU. We should be in there helping it to evolve. It will have to reform and this will shake it up.”

The award-winning firm, which makes cashmere wraps, exports all over the world including to Europe.

“There’s always going to be red tape whether we are in the EU or not,” said Niamh.

Other signatories to the letter included Bruce Hemphill the CEO of the Old Mutual Group, which employs more than 1,000 staff at its two offices in Southampton city centre and, David Atkinson, CEO of Hammersons, which owns WestQuay shopping centre, and David Stokes, CEO of IBM UK which has offices at Hursley, and Dr Chris Emslie, pictured, of fibre optics firm Fibercore in Chilworth.

Others who made an 11th-hour plea to voters included fellow Brexit campaigner Sir Desmond Swayne, Tory MP for New Forest West.

He said: “We are increasingly governed by people whom we do not elect and whom we cannot remove.

“Outside the EU we will be more prosperous. Our trade is predominantly with the rest of the world while the EU discourages trade outside Fortress Europe, which has been crumbling for years. It is time to take back control of our country.”

But Remain supporter Dr Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, said the single market economy had boosted Britain’s prosperity over the past few decades.

Urging everyone to use their vote he added: “What’s really important is that we get a clear outcome.

“It’s not like other elections, where if you don’t like the result you get to have another go a few years later. The referendum result will stand for the next 30-40 years. It’s absolutely imperative that we make the right decision now.”

Caroline Nokes, Tory MP for Romsey and Southampton North, has also come out in favour of staying in the EU. Claiming a vote to leave the Union would represent a leap into the unknown she said: “Within the single market our economic prosperity is more of a certainty.”

Last night Southampton City Council urged voters to plan ahead and make sure they visited their local polling station in time.

Mark Heath, counting officer for the city, said people should arrive well before the polls closed at 10pm as anyone who turns up after the deadline will not be allowed to vote.

He added: “We’re expecting a high turnout so I encourage Southampton residents to take a few minutes to plan what time they will arrive.

“Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm. The busiest times are usually in the late afternoon, when parents come with their children after school, and early evening when people come to vote after work.

“Voters who are able to be flexible, may want to avoid these peak times.”

Saints legend Lawrie McMenemy made a similar plea, without revealing which way he intended to vote.

He told the Daily Echo: “Voting is taken for granted now but people have battled to get a vote and a voice. It’s a privilege to be able to have a voice so why waste it?

“You can’t complain about anything if you haven’t actually voted.”

Celebs supporting Brexit:

  • Sir Michael Caine
  • Katie Hopkins
  • Sir Ian Botham
  • Elizabeth Hurley
  • Bernie Ecclestone
  • Julian Fellowes (creator of Downton Abbey)
  • David Icke
  • Keith Chegwin
  • Sol Campbell
  • Roger Daltrey

Celebs supporting Remain:

  • David Beckham
  • Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Helena Bonham Carter
  • Keira Knightley
  • Simon Cowell
  • Jeremy Clarkson
  • Eddie Izzard
  • Vivienne Westwood
  • Alan Sugar
  • Richard Branson
General Market

Collective Action Only Chance for Global Peace, Security, European Union High Representative Tells Security Council

United Nations Cooperation with Regional Bodies Critical, Speakers Stress

In a conflictual world characterized by scattered power, global peace and security would only stand a chance only if nations and regions united against common threats transcending their borders, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy told the Security Council today, amid calls for greater cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations.

In her second briefing to the Council, High Representative Federica Mogherini recalled the common efforts she had carried out with various United Nations agencies around the world in different multilateral formats.  Multilateralism would be among the core principles in the European Union’s new global strategy for foreign and security policy, which she would present in the coming weeks.  “In times like these, we need each other,” she said.  “We need the United Nations.”

Providing an overview of European Union priorities, she urged renewed efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recalling that the regional bloc had pushed to revitalize the Middle East Quartet in 2015, and held several meetings where Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the League of Arab States had joined the discussions.

Last November, the European Union had met with the newly formed International Syria Support Group in Vienna, where all regional and international actors had gathered around the same table for the first time since the outbreak of the war in Syria.  Unity was also central for Libya, and the European Union had begun to mobilize a €100 million package to help restart the country.

She went on to say that the European Union had launched its Operation Sophia naval initiative against trafficking networks in the Mediterranean Sea, asking the Council to adopt a resolution authorizing it to enforce the United Nations arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.  As for Ukraine, she said the Minsk agreements must be fully implemented, emphasizing that the European Union did not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.

Describing migration and displacement as “one of the great challenges of our era”, she said that she would be in Strasbourg, France, on 7 June to present a plan for a “new migration partnership”.  Going forward, the European Union would seek to reinforce old ties and create new ones in bilateral, regional and global relations, she said, adding that while formats could change, the bloc would always return to the United Nations and the stubborn idea of a cooperative world order.

In the ensuing debate, speakers praised the European Union’s cooperation with the United Nations, especially in matters of peace and security, with some singling out its diplomatic efforts on the Iranian nuclear file, its peacekeeping work in Africa, and broader initiatives to combat human trafficking, terrorism and violent extremism.  Concern expressed by Venezuela’s representative about the need to respect principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter was echoed by his counterpart from China, who emphasized the importance of upholding sovereignty and independence, as well as non-interference in domestic affairs, among other values.

Other speakers struck a more cautious tone, with the Russian Federation’s representative expressing regret that the quest for a political settlement in Syria had led European partners to take destructive and unilateral actions, engaging in propaganda rather than patient, joint efforts.  Likewise in Ukraine, Brussels had played an “unseemly role” in that country’s ongoing crisis, he said, expressing hope that the European Union would insist that Kyiv follow through on its obligations under the Minsk agreements.

On that point, Ukraine’s representative expressed hope that the new European Union Global Security Strategy would reflect the root cause of instability in his country.  Its dedication to protecting universal principles of international law was particularly relevant in light of the attempted illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian Federation’s ongoing military aggression in eastern Ukraine, he said.

Malaysia’s representative said he would like to see the European Union play a more active role as a broker within the Middle East Quartet, given the absence of efforts by the Security Council to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The regional body could use available tools to end decades of impunity, he said, stressing that those involved must move from managing the conflict to addressing its root causes.

Egypt’s delegate expressed hope that the European Union would play an effective role in pushing for greater efforts to support Libya’s Government of National Accord, warning that any delay in that regard could result in the failure of the political process there, strengthening terrorist groups and exacerbating the situation of migrants and refugees.

Also speaking today were representatives of Senegal, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Spain, Uruguay, United States, Angola and France.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:40 p.m.

Briefing

FEDERICA MOGHERINI, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, recalled the common work she had carried out with United Nations agencies around the world, in different multilateral formats, saying:  “I believe this is the only way we have — as Europeans, as responsible members of the international community — to face these difficult times.”  An unprecedented number of people were on the move, with tens of millions fleeing war, she said, noting that cities in Europe had been hit by terrorist attacks.  Inequality, insecurity, xenophobia, islamophobia and anti-Semitism were also on the rise.  “In times like these, we need each other.  We need the United Nations,” she said.  In that context, the European Union had placed multilateralism at the core of its common external action.

She said new security threats in the Middle East should push everyone to renew efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because further escalation, especially around holy sites in Jerusalem, would have grave consequences for the region.  On the other hand, a peaceful solution could unlock regional cooperation, she said, adding that she had made the Middle East peace process a top priority for European Union action.  The trends were clear:  violence had amplified mistrust, Israel’s settlement policy was eroding prospects for a two-State solution, and the absence of unity among Palestinian factions was a major stumbling block.  In 2015, the European Union had pushed to revitalize the Middle East Quartet, and several meetings had been held, including in New York, where Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the League Arab States had joined the discussions.  In Paris, a few days ago, parties had discussed how the international community could help.

Recalling the Council’s July 2015 endorsement of the deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, she said monitoring of its implementation continued, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  In November, the European Union had met with the newly formed International Syria Support Group in Vienna, where all regional and international actors had finally been at the same table for the first time since the start of the war in Syria.  “It is vital that humanitarian aid reaches a greater number of areas,” she stressed, noting that the Union had reopened its humanitarian office in Damascus.  In Iraq, progress had been made in the military campaign, she said, underlining the need for rapid stabilization and restoration of services after Da’esh-held areas were liberated.  The campaign against the group must be framed by an adequate political settlement and the European Union supported Iraq’s efforts in that regard.  Unity was also central for Libya, she said, noting that the European Union had restated its support for the Government of National Accord in Vienna last month.  It had also started to mobilize a €100 million package to help restart the country.

The European Union had launched the Operation Sophia naval initiative against trafficking networks in the Mediterranean, she continued, thanking the Council for its resolution endorsing that mission and requesting that it now adopt one authorizing that operation to enforce the United Nations arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.  The need for a political solution in Yemen, and to address the dire humanitarian situation there, was just as urgent as elsewhere in the region, she added.  As for Ukraine, that situation was a priority for the European Union, she said, emphasizing that the Minsk agreements must be fully implemented.  The bloc did not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, and was working with Kyiv to help Ukraine implement reforms, she said, citing a recently approved constitutional amendment to improve the independence of the judiciary.  As for its efforts as a global security provider, she said the European Union was following the negotiations to end the conflict in Colombia, and she had recently signed important agreements.

The bloc would host an a major international conference on Afghanistan in Brussels, she said, suggesting that a United Nations police mission could deter further threats to peace in Burundi.  In the Central African Republic, the European Union and the United Nations had joined forces to restore the police and gendarmerie, while the regional bloc provided support to the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The European Union’s cooperation had also yielded historic results in building resilience in relation to the Paris Agreement on climate change, and a similar approach had been integral to its response on migration.  She said she would be in Strasbourg on 7 June to present, with colleagues in the European Commission, the plan for a “new migration partnership”.  Describing migration and displacement as “one of the great challenges of our era”, she said:  “Our response is the measure of our very humanity.”  Going forward, the European Union would seek to reinforce old ties and create new ones, in bilateral relations, as well as at the regional and global levels.  It had supported African-led peace efforts through the Africa Peace Facility, while its cooperation with the African Union, the Arab League, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could only grow stronger, she said.

Statements

VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that, despite the ongoing crisis in relations between his country and the European Union, the two had worked together in areas including religious extremism, drug trafficking and illegal migration, and the settlement of challenges facing the Middle East.  In that regard, the Russian Federation welcomed the European Union’s role in securing agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue, and expected that its member States would continue to play a constructive, honest and impartial role in seeking a political settlement for Syria.  It was important that the European Union maintain an open channel for dialogue with that country’s Government, he said, expressing regret that European partners often allowed themselves to take destructive and unilateral actions, engaging in propaganda instead of patient, joint efforts.  Continued pressure on Damascus would not have the desired result, he emphasized, calling for efforts to force Turkey to stop encroaching on Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He went on to state that his country was closely following the European Union’s efforts to address the crisis in Libya, and was puzzled by its decision to include key players in that country on its sanctions list, which seemed to be an attempt to punish Libyan politicians.  The Russian Federation was also concerned about the flow into the country of fighters belonging to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) from other States, although that should not be used as a pretext for interfering in Libya’s internal affairs, he stressed.  The increasing number of deaths in the Mediterranean underlines the need to resolve the root issues that forced so many people to undertake such a dangerous journey, he said.  Turning to the situation in Ukraine, he said Brussels had played an “unseemly role” in that country’s ongoing crisis, and expressed hope that the European Unions and European capitals would insist that Kyiv follow through on its obligations under the Minsk package of measures.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said the partnership between the United Nations and the European Union was one of the most important examples of cooperation between the world body and regional organizations.  The strategic partnership covered a number of crises that went beyond the immediate geographic area of the European Union.  Noting that the heightening of some crises had resulted in the international community leaving the Palestinian question to the side, he said that had increased tensions in the Middle East region, and there was need for greater efforts by the international community to revive the peace process on the basis of a two-State solution, which could not be accomplished given the recent actions of the Israeli side.

Turning to the situation in Libya, he said that country was going through a critical political phase, which called for greater international efforts to support the Government of National Accord.  A major challenge would be to build and strengthen State structures so that the Government could respond to the major political and economic challenges it faced.  Egypt hoped that the European Union would be able to play an effective role in that regard, he said, emphasizing that any delay could result in the failure of the political process, the strengthening of terrorist groups and the deterioration of the refugee and migrant situation.  Expressing concern about the expanding actions of terrorist groups, he stressed that international efforts to address the terrorist threat should not be confined to the security and political dimensions, but must also send a message to counter the narratives of terrorist organizations, which worked under the guise of religion to attract funds and draw interest.

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said regional and subregional organizations could help foster peace by bringing their local conflict-resolution expertise to bear.  Noting that the European Union had the institutional mechanisms to finance peacekeeping missions and carried out actions to prevent crises, he welcomed its comprehensive approach to peace and security, and urged a development-focused effort to tackle migration.  Citing the bloc’s prevention activities in dealing with the root causes of conflict, he said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) attached great importance to its activities in Guinea-Bissau, expressing hope for its further cooperation in that regard.

YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) said his country’s partnership with the European Union was based on such values as democracy, freedom and the rule of law.  Japan cooperated with the bloc on peace and security, economic and other global issues, and they had recently organized joint programmes to improve security situations in Africa, including in Mali.  In Niger, Japan had provided radio equipment and vehicles for integral command centres, to which the European Union provided capacity-building training.  In the Middle East, Japan and the European Union continued to address humanitarian needs brought on by violent extremism, he said, noting that his country had announced a $6 billion package for stability in the Middle East and North Africa for the period 2016 to 2018.  Japan supported United Nations efforts for political solutions in Libya, Syria, Yemen and other regional crises, and valued the Organization’s cooperation with the European Union under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.

GERARD VAN BOHEMAN (New Zealand) said the partnership of the United Nations with the European Union was one of its deepest and most productive.  Among other things, it played an ongoing role in supporting implementation of the Minsk agreements in Ukraine, and in seeking to revive the Middle East peace process.  In Syria, where the peace process was faltering and the disastrous humanitarian situation deteriorating, “we need to do all we can to resume negotiations on a political transition”, he said, acknowledging the significant humanitarian and development assistance that the European Union and its member States had provided to mitigate the human cost of the conflict there.  Turning to the flow of irregular migrants who continued to enter the European Union, he noted that many others perished as they attempted the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.  New Zealand had co-sponsored Council resolution 2240 (2015) on international efforts to intercept vessels off the Libyan coast suspected of migrant smuggling, and was ready to consider other contributions that European Union countries could make, in partnership with the Council, to support safety and stability in the Mediterranean as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenges of irregular migration.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) highlighted the origins of both the United Nations and the European Union in the scourge of war, saying it was unsurprising that they shared so many values that underpinned the collective ability to protect and maintain international peace and security.  The European Union and its member States played an active role in peacekeeping and provided complementary support to United Nations missions, as well as those undertaken by other regional organizations.  During the Security Council’s recent visit to Somalia, members had been able to see first-hand the critical role played by the European Union in supporting the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and broader efforts to bring long–term peace to Somalia.  It also played a valuable role in promoting peace through various mediation and peace agreements around the world, he said noting that it had been active in promoting the political process under way in Syria.  He welcomed the close cooperation between the European Union and the United Nations on Libya, which had helped in establishing the Government of National Accord in that country.  It had also provided financial support for quick-impact projects in Libya, which would have immediate benefits on the ground.  It had provided practical support to address the ongoing migration and refugee crisis, he said, adding that the United Kingdom would support the European Union’s efforts to build the capacity of Libya’s coast guard.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said his delegation was pleased that the European Union had reserved a major role for prevention in its global security strategy.  Spain had recently organized the first-ever international conference on preventive diplomacy, in which high representatives of the bloc had participated, he said, adding that its conclusions would be distributed to the Security Council and the General Assembly in due course.  On Iran, he highlighted the very important role played by the European Union in the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan agreed with Iran in July 2015.  The European Union had supported stability in Libya and the fight against human traffickers working on its coast, he said, noting that Operation Sophia had saved more than 15,000 lives.  The European Union had had a very firm commitment in Africa, to two operations in particular — the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), he said.

WU HAITAO (China) said the European Union was an important partner of the United Nations, citing its participation on the Iranian nuclear issue and “hotspots” in the Middle East, as well as its support for the African Union’s peacekeeping efforts.  China supported the European Union’s constructive role in United Nations affairs, which must advocate political settlement of hotspot questions through dialogue and respect for sovereignty, independence, non-interference and other values.  It should respect each country’s sovereign choice of path to development and maintain a fair view of its human rights situation, he emphasized.  Further, it should facilitate synergies with United Nations efforts to foster development, notably by strengthening North-South cooperation and helping countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  China took a long-term view of cooperation and was ready to enhance efforts to that end within the framework of the United Nations.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said history had shown the need to “treat the disease, not the symptoms” in tragic situations like those in Ukraine and Syria.  In the case of the former, there should be a strategic answer on the European Union side to security challenges in the Eastern Partnership, which had originated with the Russian Federation, he emphasized, expressing hope that the new European Union Global Security Strategy would not only reflect the root cause of instability there, but provide for cooperation mechanisms, as well as a stronger role for itself in the conflict-resolution process.  The European Union’s efforts and dedication to the peaceful resolution of conflicts and protecting universal principles of international law were particularly relevant in light of the attempted illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian Federation’s ongoing military aggression in eastern Ukraine, he said, adding that such hybrid warfare could only be countered through bold and coherent strategies based on joint efforts, a clear understanding of the source of the threat and a vision of how to tackle it.  In that regard, he urged the Russian Federation to comply with the United Nations Charter, the provisions of General Assembly resolution 68/262 on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and international treaties.  Calling upon that country also to end its occupation of Crimea, he expressed further urged it to fulfil all its obligations under the Minsk agreements, including the withdrawal of Russian weapons, military forces and mercenaries from Ukraine.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said his delegation placed great value on the European Union’s role in international peace and security, emphasizing that United Nations cooperation with such organizations was essential.  Terrorism, migration and piracy were among the challenges requiring synergies and complementarities, he said, recalling that his country had received European migrants following the world wars, while Uruguayans had travelled to Europe for economic and other reasons.  The European Union’s response to the Ebola outbreak had helped attainment of a positive outcome, while membership in the Middle East Quartet gave it an important role in finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  In the Balkans, the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) had played an important role in fostering the rule of law in Kosovo, he recalled.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States) said every member State of the European Union was a democracy and none had raised arms against another, a “remarkable accomplishment”.  The benefits of Europe’s peace and prosperity had extended beyond the continent, making it an invaluable partner to many Member States.  Lessons could be drawn from the European Union about more effectively advancing peace and security, she said, noting that the pressure it had exerted had been critical in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.  The bloc was now monitoring implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as coordinator of the Joint Commission.  The European Union’s diplomatic pressure sought to end the conflict in Ukraine and to forge and ensure compliance with the Minsk agreements.  It had demonstrated how regional organizations could use financial, technical and military tools to help prevent violence.  It was managing nine civilian and military forces in Africa, and had provided more than €1.6 billion since 2003 to support capacity-building.  Emphasizing that closing borders could not be the answer to monumental challenges like migration, she said they required a common response and redoubled commitment to the principles upon which the world’s common security and humanity depended.

ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said the European Union’s cooperation strengthened United Nations efforts to prevent conflict, restore peace and build stability in post-conflict situations.  The long-standing triangular cooperation between the United Nations, European Union and the African Union was a key element of the search for stability in Africa, and the European Union’s participation was particularly relevant in three theatres of operation — the Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia.  Its role in combating piracy off the Somali coast and its support of UNSOM had been instrumental in fighting terrorism in that country, he said, describing terrorism as the main cause behind the forced migration of millions of people in search of survival, peace and a better future.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), emphasizing that the European Union and its member States must continue to act in accordance with to Charter principles, he said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran demonstrated that dialogue and negotiations were the only way to address challenges to international peace and security.  Venezuela called for the Security Council, with support from the European Union, to play a prominent role in finding a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on a two-State solution.  The armed conflict in Libya figured prominently on the European Union’s agenda, he said, calling upon the bloc to redouble its efforts in support of dialogue aimed at bringing stability to that country.  Noting that the migrant and refugee crisis was costing lives every day, he stressed that security measures, or criminalizing migration, were not appropriate ways to address the issue, which was essentially one of human rights.

RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) reaffirmed his delegation’s support for enhanced cooperation with regional and subregional organizations under Chapter VIII of the Charter, welcoming the European Union’s efforts to promote peace and security.  However, Malaysia would like to see it play a more active role as a broker in the Middle East Quartet, given the lack of Council efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The bloc could use available tools to end decades of impunity, he said, stressing that, given the “slow death” of a settlement based on a two-State solution, actors must move from managing the conflict to addressing its root causes.  Welcoming the European Union’s support for political dialogue in Syria, and its critical support for Syrian refugees in European countries or in the Middle East through its migration policies and humanitarian aid, he proposed that it make similar efforts to address human trafficking and smuggling in South-East Asia.  He acknowledged the bloc’s attempts to address Islamophobia as part of its response to xenophobia, urging more dialogue around socioeconomic inclusion to complement its counter-terrorism strategy.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), Council President for June, spoke in his national capacity, saying that the European Union’s military and civilian missions had supported implementation of the Council’s decisions on many fronts, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo.  Noting its contribution of more than one third of the regular and peacekeeping budgets, he said more than 1,000 European Union “Blue Helmets” were participants in MINUSMA.  It had joined those calling for resumed political talks in Syria, and had spared no effort to help the Government in Libya fight terrorism.  It was also working on a draft resolution in the Council that would strengthen intervention on the high seas in situations arms-embargo violations, and was a primary stakeholder in the response to the migrant and refugee crisis.  Indeed, the European Union and the United Nations were strategic partners united by a shared vision of the world, where rights were stronger than force, he said.

Ms. MOGHERINI, said the European Union had a legacy of providing for the citizens of Europe, and for promoting peace and security both in the European region and across the world.  Its partnership with the United Nations was critical for both organizations.  She noted the appreciation expressed by Council members for the bloc’s efforts in several key areas, including the Balkans and Myanmar, and on such the issues as non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and the fight against xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.  On migration, she pointed out that Operation Sophia had already saved tens of thousands of lives, emphasizing that the European Union did not wish to see anyone die, whether in the Mediterranean Sea or in the desert.  It was doing its part in relation to the migration crisis, which it viewed as a human duty and political responsibility, yet one requiring collective action.  “Let’s join forces,” she said, noting that lives were being lost each and every day, often out of the public eye.  Underlining that the European Union was trying to manage the migration phenomenon, not to stop migration entirely, she said the crisis was not a “problem” that must be stopped, but a phenomenon that must be managed.