State of the Union speech

On 13 September, the European Parliament met for the State of the Union address by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The Commission President addressed the House in his annual statement in a long speech that covered upcoming legislative priorities and a more general debate on his vision for the future of the EU.

  • In terms of the priorities for the next 18 months, Juncker stressed the areas of international trade, investment screening, industrial policy, digital protection and migration. In general, the speech was well received by the centre of the House (EPP, S&D, ALDE), but criticised by the GUE/NGL, EFDD and ENF Groups.
  • Other issues touched upon included social policy, foreign affairs and the need for a Euro-Minister as well as more internal issues of how to strengthen European democracy.
  • Amongst other points, the future of the Turkish enlargement negotiations was raised, but Brexit was not mentioned by the Commission President. 
  • President Juncker's speech in the European Parliament was accompanied by the adoption of concrete initiatives by the European Commission on trade, investment screening, cybersecurity, industry, data and democracy, putting words immediately into action.
  • Regarding health, in one small section Juncker stated that it is unacceptable to still have children dying of measles in Romania or Italy. He added that these “avoidable deaths must not occur in Europe. Generally, however, Juncker was silent when it comes to healthcare. Nevertheless, the Commission has worked hard to create a digital single market, which certainly has an impact on healthcare.
  • In this era of fast-moving science and the advent of personalised medicine, such a single market should greatly assist in putting Europe’s patients at the heart of these advances.
  • Several relatively recent reports by Commission advisory groups have suggested exactly this, emphasising areas such as patient access to electronic health records, so called telemedicine (including home monitoring), interoperability issues (which will certainly involve agreed standards in the arena of eHealth), and health inequalities when it comes to access. Juncker, however, neglected to mention any of this.
  • In the EU, communications emphasise the European Commission’s aim of prioritising the Digital Single Market and encouraging co-operation between Member States on eHealth. The EU executive has also promised to support countries in setting up cost-effective and interoperable systems.


Every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers his State of the Union Address before the European Parliament, taking stock of achievements of the past year and presenting priorities for the year ahead. The President also sets out how the Commission will address the most pressing challenges the European Union is facing. The speech is followed by a plenary debate. This kick-starts the dialogue with the European Parliament and Council to prepare the Commission Work Programme for the following year.

More information can be found here.

Date: 04/10/2017 | Tag: | News: 658 of 1581
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