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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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.