European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, made his annual state of the European Union address, Wednesday. The president was upbeat about the EU’s prospects as he focused on union and gave little time to Brexit.
Speaking to the European Union parliament in Strasbourg, Juncker said that right now there was a window of opportunity to create a more united EU. He added the window wouldn’t remain open forever.
Economic growth in the EU has been steady over the past two years, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2%. And, while the president referred to a tough 2016, which included the Brexit decision, he said the wind was now in their sails and they should be looking forward.
One popular detail of his speech, was that of introducing an investment screening process to protect EU assets. This move would help curb China’s ability to purchase European businesses in the infrastructure and energy sectors.
This particular announcement was met with positive comments from the three major EU members.
A joint-country statement, published by the German Economy Ministry stated: “Germany, France and Italy firmly welcome the Commission’s proposals as an important step towards a level playing field in Europe”
Additional details the EU president outlined in his keynote speech included:
- Strengthening immigration rules and abilities.
- To seek market discussions with New Zealand and Australia.
- Introducing a European finance and economy minister.
- Creating a European cyber security agency.
- Common EU standards for consumer goods sold throughout the region.
And, while Mr. Juncker didn’t dwell on Brexit, it was included in the address. After saying the EU would “always regret” the UK’s decision to go ahead with Brexit, he added an off-script note to UK audience members, “I think you will regret it soon, too.”
However, the focus of the speech was unashamedly unity. The lack of which has been oft discussed since the 2016 Brexit vote. Calling for the EU to embrace reforms and new trade deals, it’s clear the EU president remains shaken by 2016, but will work hard to create a stronger EU for the future.