President of the European Commission Juncker yesterday (14 September) addressed the European Parliament in his annual State of the European Union speech, which comes right before the Bratislava summit on 16 September. The speech kick-starts a dialogue with the European Parliament and Council to prepare the Commission’s 2017 Work Program and the discourse on the future of the EU among the 27 Heads of State.
President Juncker spoke about the need of investment in young people, job seekers and start-ups to boost innovativeness and job creation. Mr Juncker further proposed an ambitious Investment Plan for Africa to prevent migrants from having to risk their lives for a better life. The EU leadership has also presented plans to guarantee that every European village and city has a free wireless Internet network by 2020. The EU also wants to ensure fair pay for journalists, publishers and authors wherever their work is published and shared.
On top of these issues, the speech also addressed the protection of EU borders and the project of an EU army. The Commission President said in Strasbourg that the EU needed a military headquarters to work towards a common military force. According to the EU leadership, the lack of a “permanent structure“ resulted in money being wasted on missions. Mr Juncker emphasized that the EU’s common military force would be an addition to NATO as “more defense in Europe doesn’t mean less transatlantic solidarity.” All EU member countries have military forces and some of them are members of the Alliance. As such, many of them have extensive experience with operations abroad, while the EU aims to improve command and the control of facilities.