State of the Union

On 9 September 2015, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, delivered his annual ‘State of the Union’ address to the European Parliament. It is tempting to mock the somewhat Ruritanian pretensions of the EU in its attempt to emulate the USA — whose President is by contrast elected on the basis of a national universal franchise. But more important are two strands of Juncker’s speech which confirm the direction of Commission thinking and the future development of the Union.

First, the primary focus is clearly on the core of eurozone members of the EU. In an implicit allusion to the ‘Five Presidents’ report, Juncker says:

“The European Parliament is and must remain the Parliament of the euro area. And the European Parliament, in its role as co-legislator, will be in charge of deciding on the new initiatives the Commission will propose in the months to come to deepen our Economic and Monetary Union.”

Second, in relation to the position of the UK, he says:

“Special Protocols define the position of the UK, for instance in relation to the euro and to Justice and Home Affairs. To be fair to the other Member States, the UK’s choices must not prevent them from further integration where they see fit.”

Once again we can see the implication of Associate Membership for non-eurozone EU nations under a new treaty, which would condemn the UK to permanent second-tier, second-class status. Cameron must not be allowed to claim this as a victory and promote Britain’s continued membership of the EU on these terms.

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