State of the Union: As it happened

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, during his state of the EU address in 2015. [European Commission]

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker kicked off his State of the European Union address at the European Parliament at 9am today (14 Wednesday). EURACTIV’s live feed brought breaking news, live video and analysis of the speech.

Now in its sixth year, the State of the Union address is an opportunity for the incumbent Commission president to address the Parliament plenary session, highlighting the EU’s achievements over the past year and its priorities going forward.

This is how the morning’s events unfolded.


Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:09

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:13

Some background on what Juncker is expected to talk about today.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:17

Jean-Claude Juncker has called the trade deal between the EU and Canada (CETA) the “best and most progressive trade deal we have ever entered into”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:23

Switching from German to English, Juncker has now called for the reunification of Cyprus. “It has to happen now”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:27

Juncker has now insisted that his Commission “is delivering on the fight against tax evasion”; audible laughter was heard in the auditorium in Strasbourg.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:28

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Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:30

The Commission president made mention of Polish workers being “beaten up or even murdered in the streets of Essex”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:31

Ringing endorsement for this upcoming announcement from Juncker…

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:34

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Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:36

Juncker starts to unveil his “global” investment plan, intended to compliment existing development aid and help manage the migration crisis.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:37

“I will not accept that this will be the first generation in 70 years to be poorer than their parents”. Inaudible heckling in background.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:38

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Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:42

Now switching to French, Juncker begins to address the issue of terrorism and the attacks that have occurred over the last 12 months.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:43

When highlighting the need for more solidarity, Juncker conceded that “it cannot be imposed” and “must come from the heart”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:44

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“The world is getting better every day and Europe is getting smaller every day, demographically.”

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:46

Juncker reacting to criticism that the EU has fallen behind the US and China in environmental matters; Cañete approves.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:47

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:47

Juncker insists that Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative, should have a seat at the negotiating table when it comes to the Syria conflict.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:50

Juncker insists that the EU needs a common defence HQ, complementary to NATO. “EU army” klaxons may start ringing.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:51

The Luxembourger pleads with his audience for “old spats” to be put aside and for EU officials to continue and increase their visits to national parliaments, as Europe cannot be built “without the member states”. He refutes the suggestion that the Berlaymont (Commission HQ) is an “ivory tower”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:53

Juncker talks about the “good intentions” behind doing away with roaming charges. Starts to side like a mobile advert: “You will feel at home anywhere in Europe”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:52

Juncker insists that the EU needs a common defence HQ, complementary to NATO. “EU army” klaxons may start ringing.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:56

Juncker Senior gets a mention towards the tail-end of the speech, as the president insists that the younger generation deserves a “better Europe, a better future”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:56

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:57

“History will not remember our names, it will remember the strength of our convictions. It will remember our mistakes..” The speech ends and it seems like this line was intended to be his “there is not enough union in this union” soundbite from 2015.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201609:59

Manfred Weber, head of the EPP, takes the floor and kicks things off with mention of Brexit and the younger generation.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:03

Weber’s comments range from “Yes to CETA” and reiterating the view that full membership for Turkey will not work.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:05

Weber calls on the members states to take responsibility for their actions and urges the European Council to stop its “cheap populism”. Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic praised for their history of voting and not abstaining.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:07

Gianni Pittella, head of the S&D group, takes the floor, accusing UK Prime Minister Theresa May of holding the rest of the EU “in checkmate” by not invoking Article 50. “It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:08

For those who wanted things to be spiced up, disappointment that Weber made no mention of the brewing argument between the EPP and S&D on whether Schulz will remain Parliament president. Maybe Pittella will oblige…

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:09

Clearly intended as a meaningful gesture, but Weber’s proposal has already been met with a bit of derision by social media.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:10

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:08

For those who wanted things to be spiced up, disappointment that Weber made no mention of the brewing argument between the EPP and S&D on whether Schulz will remain Parliament president. Maybe Pittella will oblige…

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:11

Pittella agrees with Juncker that Federica Mogherini deserves to be a “true EU foreign minister”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:14

Syed Kamall, head of the ECR group, gets an immediate cheer, albeit small, as he starts his comments with a reminder that the UK voted to leave. He criticises Juncker’s speech for not being the promised “relaunch” and just “more of the same”. Kamall urges the “next EU treaty” to be stripped back and simplified.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:15

“More equal than others” – Kamall trying to channel Orwell as he takes aim at “Old Europe” and criticises the EU for penalising newer members states for the same slips that older member states are allowed to get away with.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:15

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:16

The European Parliament’s new Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt takes the floor. Immediately riles against Syed Kamall’s comments on populism and nationalism.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:20

Verhofstadt, nearly shouting, criticises those who think “walls and fences” solve all of the EU’s problems. Insists that tax evasion and tax havens can only be fought with supranational institutions.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:22

“Europe is the cure against the cancer of nationalism” and “a counterweight against wide and unchecked globalisation”. Praises Juncker’s proposals.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:23

Juncker, tie loosened, looks very tired as Verhofstadt addresses him directly.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:25

“Brexit is not a liability, it is an opportunity. Fair enough that UK government wants to make it a success. We have a responsibility to make it a success for Europe, the citizens of Europe. Brexit is not a matter of punishment or revenge. It is in my opinion, a question of the sound relationship between the UK and Europe. On both sides of the channel, let’s put an end to our collective depression.”

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:26

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:28

Schulz defends his allocation of more time to the heads of the Parliament group leaders, as the plenary is a “unique opportunity for debate”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:29

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Nigel Farage takes the floor and immediately tries to wind everybody up by congratulating Barroso on his new job at Goldman Sachs.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:42

Farage admits the UK government needs to “get on with things” and then accuses one of the EU’s “divorce lawyers”, Guy Verhofstadt, of being an “EU nationalist”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:43

Farage ends up recycling quotes he first gave us last week.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:43

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:44

Farage sits down, someone shouts “liar” and Marine Le Pen takes the floor. Calls Juncker’s speech “inspid”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:47

Her time allocation over, Le Pen takes her seat, nothing beyond her normal rhetoric, but confirms that she will be pursuing a “Frexit”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:51

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201610:54

Ivan Korcok, representing the Slovak Presidency, assures the room that they are aware of the urgency with which they must act.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:07

ECR’s Ulrike Trebesius calls Juncker “old and tired”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:10

Ireland urged to “take the money and run”, “think it over over a bottle of whisky”, because “Apple only ever had one job and he is now dead” – Martin Sonneborn

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:10

Stay tuned for more cartoons like this!

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:13

The EPP’s Janusz Lewandowski gives many of us in the Eurobubble plenty of material for nightmares by talking about “Farage clones”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:16

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:17

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:20

European unity called into question, Luxembourg’s foreign minister’s call for Hungary to be thrown out of the EU cited as an example.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:20

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:28

For anyone joining the party late, you can catch up on the main event, Juncker’s speech, here.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:34

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:39

Shout-out to the sterling work done by the European Parliament’s interpreters today. Got through a huge amount of work, professionally.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:39

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:44

Richard Corbett and Alyn Smith MEPs agree that Brexit was not thought through properly and that the UK needs a common approach in order for it to work.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:47

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:49

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:50

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:55

Irish MEP Nessa Childers used her allotted 1 minute to remind President Juncker that most British people want a peaceful Brexit negotiation (in response to his mention of the attacks on Poles in Harlow, UK), adding that Kristalina Georgieva would make a good UN Sec-Gen.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201611:58

Juncker retakes the floor as the MEPs’ questioning comes to an end. Makes assurances that visa liberalisation will only be granted to Turkey if all the needed criteria are fulfilled. Asks for more patience.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201612:04

More on this morning’s developments, by @JamesCrisp6.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201612:04

Farage returns to the floor…

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201612:06

“Farage is like an alcoholic who complains about another guy drinking a pint in a pub, to give you an example you’ll understand,” Verhofstadt butting heads with Farage, “a friend of autocratics, like Putin”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201612:10

“Farage is like an alcoholic who complains about another guy drinking a pint in a pub, to give you an example you’ll understand,” Verhofstadt butting heads with Farage, “a friend of autocrats, like Putin”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201612:13

On the Luxembourg-Hungary spat from yesterday, Manfred Weber says “we are not in a kindergarten here”.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201612:15

@GeorgiGotev reports on the morning’s proceedings

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201612:18

The debate concludes with Manfred Weber and David Coburn trading blows, with the former suggesting populists should be given less time to speak if they are “going to make comments like that”. Schulz reminds him that he did not have to answer the question.

Samuel Morgan 14/09/201612:22

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Further Reading