On the 12th September Juncker, the President of the European Commission (COM) and member of the Christian democratic party family, held his important “State of the Union” speech. Even if the speech might not be too fascinating itself, it is highly relevant as it provides the COM with strategic direction on what to concentrate its work on.
So what was the basic assumption of Juncker? He had good news for us! His letter to the Parliament and the Council says: “Thanks to our joint efforts in recent years, we have managed to put the financial and economic crisis behind us”.
The bad news. It’s not only Juncker and his minions who believe this.
Everything was totally dominated by migration and asylum that virtually only one other political arena stood against it: foreign policy. We couldn’t hear anything relevant on social policy, unemployment, de-industrialisation, not even on the euro crisis (I forgot, it has all been solved…). Environmental policies were also only mentioned en passant. The foreign policy has developed instead as the new „beacon” for the COM. Trade agreements would be wonderful, a new pact with Africa on investment and jobs will be proposed, and defense, defense and defense were mentioned.
In an internal meeting with the Directors of the different branches of the COM Juncker was surprised that the media had not understood which would have been the most important word of his speech –“Africa”. Run, Africa, run! One may only scream…
Supporting this EPP view Merkel said the same day in Berlin “that a common European solution to the migration issue was crucial for the future of the European Union …. The challenge is even greater than the financial and euro crisis that broke out ten years ago”.
So, militarisation, fortress Europe and the next step of economic attacks on Africa are the big topics. A sovereign Europe is so important for Juncker that he even wants to install majority rule in foreign policy. This obsession with a global player EU was so deep that reform proposals in the economic and currency union was also linked with the role of the EU in the global field: “…we must first put our own house in order by strengthening our Economic and Monetary Union, as we have already started to do. Without this, we will lack the means to strengthen the international of role of the euro.”
But we can assume that there won’t be any majority rule in foreign policy as this would be needed to be initiated via the passerelle clause. Here once all member states must with unanimity decide that majority rule might be possible in a specific policy area. This won’t happen due to the severe differences of interests in foreign policies in the EU, keyword: Russia. Juncker thus offers something impossible for the cosmopolitical Macrons and Verhofstadts of the EU but inviting the nativist Orbans and Salvinis to implement their programs on the EU level – a kind of shadow coalition.
The focus on the foreign policy goes perfectly hand in hand with Merkels shift from controlling the ECB (remember: everything is under control) to taking control of the COM presidency, a.k.a the linchpin for international relations and trade policies.
Here you can download the speech on following discussion.