Juncker's State of Union Address
In his annual address to the Union speech , EU Commission President , Jean Claude Juncker laid out his vision for a more Sovereign Europe and a move towards more Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) referring to it as "the lost treasure of the lisbon treaty"
We cannot ease up in our efforts even for one second as we seek to build a more united europe . between now and the european elections. we have to show clearly that together we are able to plant the seeds of a more sovereign europe . The euro must become the active instrument of a new and more sovereign europe .
The commission would propose to you that qualified majority voting is used on matters of foreign policy .
I think the time has now come to use this lost treasure of the lisbon treaty and I think we should be able to decide on certain matters by qualified majority and in relation to certain tax matters we should be able to decide by qualified majority .
Prior to the Nice and Lisbon Treaty , the vast majority of decisions in the EU needed the consent of all of the heads of member states sitting in the European Council .
The Lisbon Treaty introduced Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in a huge range of areas which meant that laws can now be passed by just 15 council members where those 15 represent 65% of the population , this hands vast powers and influence to large countries such as Germany over very important matters . Such matters include Common Defence Policy , Immigration & Asylum , free movement, Structural and Cohension Funds , Crime , the ECB and the EU Budget among many others
A qualified majority shall be defined as at least 55 % of the members of the Council, comprising at least fifteen of them and representing Member States comprising at least 65% of the population of the Union.
- Article 16.4 lisbon treaty
Mr Juncker continued his speech referring to Nationalism as 'Poison and Deceipt' and vowing to punish member states that dont comply with EU values through the use of Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union which gives the EU power to sanction members by suspending their voting rights .
He says :
I would like us to say No to Nationalism .
Europe and its nations must move forward as one .To love your Nation is to love Europe . Nationalism is riddled with poison and deceipt
The commission will resist any attack on the rule of law and we continue to be very concerned by developments in some of our member states .
Article 7 must be applied whenever the rule of law is threatened.
Mr Juncker's remarks appear to be aimed at Hungary coming the same day two thirds of the EU Parliament voted for Article 7 disciplinary proceedings against Hungary for refusing to take part in the Migrant Quota Scheme. In response , Hungary hit back saying that MEPs are trying to change the composition of Europe’s population and vowed to take legal action to the European Court of Justice .
In Hungary's defence , Article F.1 of the Treaty on European Union clearly states .. "The Union shall respect the national identities of its Member States, whose systems of government are founded on the principles of democracy"
Other matters raised in Mr Junckers speech included the European Defence Union , Accession of the Balkan states , building a partnership with Africa and increasing the number of African students via the Erasmus Programme and Brexit .
Juncker on European Defence Union :
Despite strong resistance at the time , in 2014 I relaunched the European Defence Union . In the coming months the commission will continue its work on the european defence fund and permanent structured cooperation on defence (PESCO) to make them fully operational . If europe better realises its political power , its economic power and military power we will no longer have to be the global payer .
Juncker on Accession of Balkan States :
We need a fortright definition of our attitude towards the accession of western Balkan countries otherwise others will take it upon themselves to shape our immediate neighbourhood . (These remarks appear to be aimed at Russia)
Juncker on Partnership with Africa :
We want to build a new partnership with Africa . The projects in the pipeline will be to the tune of 24 billion euro .
By 2020 the EU will have supported 35,000 african students and researchers through the erasmus programme .
By 2027 this figure should reach 105,000
Juncker on Brexit :
We want the British Government to know that if you leave the union you are no longer part of our single market
After Mr Juncker's speech , MEP party leaders were quick to respond.
The most notable of these responses were from French MEP Nicolas Bay (Europe of nations and freedom group) and UK MEP Nigel Farage (Europe of freedom and direct democracy group) .
French MEP Nicolas Bay responded to Mr Juncker by saying :
Cleary you are in the commission a condensed form of everything the people of europe can no longer stand . your commissions action is opaque and anti democractic . when you decided to appoint Mr Selmayr as secretary general of the commission you Mr Juncker flouted all the rules,you've been punitive towards poland and hungary . we saw one example of this stalinesk show trial just yesterday . just because they've been brave enough to stand up to the values of our civilisation and they refuse the compulsory quota of migrants you wanted to impose on them . you've also been punitive towards the british you want to make them pay the price of their freedom by refusing any type of trade deal with them while we have countries not in the EU such as norway and Iceland who have access to the single market and your increasing this welter of trade agreements around the world and you can refuse that to the british. The work of your commission has been characterised by the way you sped up the dismantlement of any kind of economic protection , you've been encouraging unfair competition within europe , undermining our industry , our farming industry , off you went to Tokyo the other day without any input from the European parliament or the National parliaments to sign up to a prior agreement on free trade with Japan. Your commission has been characterised by its crazy migration policy .You've made it possible for people to organise this mass immigration which is weakening our continent and leading to the suffering of our peoples
Mr Farage of the EFDD group was equally critical adding :
I noted your continued use of the phrase 'sovereign europe' . what your talking about is a deeper centralisation of power , a centralisation of power in terms of europes foreign policy , a centralisation of power in terms of building a european army. More power at the centre , more taxation . all this meaning less to be done at the nation state level and now another 10 000 european border guards paving the way for a federal border police in europe . Its all about centralisation power power power and heres the funny thing you appealed to our sense of european patriotism . so why is it that patriotism at the nation state level is considered to be insular , bad , nasty , xenophobic , probably racist into the bargain and yet patriotism at a european level is a good and virtuos thing . I'm afraid this idea of european patriotism , this idea of putting that flag [eu flag] above their own nation state flag is for the birds . people do not have a prefound sense of european identity , they have a sense of national identity and in a way that is the great dividing line between your vision of europe and that which is being increasingly said by the electors . We wish to live in nation states. on brexit and the irish border if we can get to a free trade deal there will be no difficulites whatsoever . lets get brexit sorted and Mr verhofstat you'll be happy , you'll see the back of us