Juncker: “I will remain an enlightened patriot”

Outgoing Commission President Juncker makes a strong appeal to Europeans to face the multiple challenges. He also said that a decision was made on the time change.

In theface of global tensions and the emergence of right-wing forces, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has urged for more European sovereignty. In order to strengthen the European Union internally and internationally and to prevent blockades, the compulsion to unanimous decisions must be lifted, said Juncker in his speech on the state of the Union on Wednesday. “The world today needs a strong and united Europe,” he added, “the EU is a guarantor of peace.”

“I love my country, but I do not hate the other countries,” said the Luxembourg on Wednesday after his speech. “I do not want to live in this world of rejection, in this world of hate.” National patriotism and European patriotism were not mutually exclusive, said the head of the commission. “I will remain a patriot, but an enlightened patriot.”

Juncker gave his annual speech on the EU’s situation ahead of the assembled EU plenum in Strasbourg. The Commission President traditionally presents his priorities for the coming year and takes stock of the state of the EU. The mandate of the European Commission ends next year, with landmark European elections in May.

JUNCKER ON THE SITUATION OF THE EU:Unity should become the power of the EU

Video: Reuters, Image: EPA

Will EU asylum agencies be expanded?

The head of the Luxembourg Commission is pushing for progress in migration and asylum policy in the face of years of dispute between EU countries. The controversial distribution of recognized refugees in Europe is currently crippling the Union – especially eastern EU states such as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic refuse to accept refugees at all.

In order to avoid similar blockages in the future, certain decisions should no longer have to be taken unanimously, Juncker said. For example, in the area of ​​foreign policy and certain tax issues, states should instead be able to decide by qualified majority. On the one hand, at least 16 of the 28 EU member states have to agree, on the other hand, the affirmative countries must represent at least 65 percent of the EU population.

Juncker also proposed the expansion of the EU Asylum Agency. The EU countries need stronger support in processing asylum applications. In addition, the EU border agency Frontex would have to be significantly expanded, illegal migrants would have to be deported faster. In addition, legal immigration routes to Europe should be opened. In addition, Juncker put into play an alliance for sustainable investment and more jobs in Africa.

Abolition of the time change 2019

In addition, Juncker has announced the abolishment of the time change for the coming year. Europeans would not be satisfied if, due to European regulations, time would be changed twice a year, Juncker said. The decision whether they want to keep the summer or the winter time, should therefore meet the Member States themselves.

The Commission has meanwhile published a concrete proposal on how the abolition of the time change should work. According to this, on 31st March 2019, the clocks in the EU member states would be changed over for the last time. At the next date, 27 October 2019, the time change would be voluntary for the Member States. Thereafter, there should be no other changes between summer and winter time.

“I expect Parliament and the Council (Member States) to see this as well and ensure that regional, internal market-compliant solutions are found,” said Juncker.

The European Parliament called for a review of the time change in February by the Commission. In a non-representative online survey in July, 84 percent of the approximately 4.6 million participants opposed the time change. The survey in Germany attracted particular interest. 3.79 percent of the German citizens participated.

Delete terror contents quickly

Elections in Europe will be better protected in the future against manipulation attempts, according to the will of the Brussels authority. Should a party breach data protection rules in order to influence election results, they would have to pay a fine. The background to this debate is the massive Facebook data scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica.

In addition, the EU Commission wants to achieve, according to Junckers words that uploaded to the Internet terrorist content will be deleted within one hour in the future. This is “the critical window of opportunity in which the greatest damage is done”. So far, the Brussels authority has relied exclusively on voluntary measures by companies.

In order to reduce dependence on the United States, the EU Commission wants to strengthen the global significance of the euro. Most of Europe’s energy imports are currently being settled in dollars, Juncker said. That was “completely nonsensical”. Instead, the euro must become the “face and tool” of the new European sovereignty.

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