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"Ultimately there is nothing that stands out in his speech"

brussels bureau

"Ultimately there is nothing that stands out in his speech"

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Jean-Claude Juncker delivered his second State of the Union speech under the shadow of the Brexit.

He responded by seeking to present an inclusive and diverse European Union and avoiding controversial issues.

But did his speech hit the mark? We asked Vivien Pertusot of the French Institute of International Relations:

“It’s true that last year we remember his speech on the State of the Union because he had devoted much of his speech to migration issues. He was passionate about these issues and we remember that speech for it.

“This time, he made a speech this state of the Union more consensual.

“He recalled that some measures had already been taken. He announced some more that will be taken now and in the coming months.

“And it is true that ultimately there is nothing that stands out in his speech. Is this a good thing or not , that is hard to say.

“Do not ignore the fact that there are challenges everywhere in the European Union.

“Jean-Claude Juncker said himself there are multiple crises and fronts to overcome simultaneously.

“So maybe this is a reflection of precisely this fact that led him to have a much more general and much broader discourse in his choice of subjects.

“But it is true that it is rather difficult to bring out the two or three strong priorities because we finally feel that everything was calculated….. a certain number of minutes to a number subjects. “

“He had a rather serious tone. I think he is conscious, and he says this as he is the head of the Commission, he is aware that the European Commission has a strong responsibility in today with the Popularity or unpopularity of the European Union in the eyes of European citizens. And so he is committed to show that he understands the situation and he is trying to put forward policies to address precisely these expectations of citizens.

“Is it enough? It’s hard to say. This is a subject that has not been addressed and the social aspect of the EU is very important for the citizens, for example. he just said, really in passing that the European Union was not social enough. But we remember his speech in 2014 in which he talked about giving the EU a triple A rating in social terms.

“It is true that there has a certain expectation on these social issues that has not been taken since July 2014 speech when he presented his programme. And so he feels that the situation is serious and that the European Commission has an important role to play.

“He has put forward some proposals on some issues but nevertheless I think it could go further or perhaps highlight fewer priorities to give some clarity to his speech which is certainly very comprehensive and meets certain expectations in some areas but lacks maybe ability to just talk to citizens. “

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