This Wednesday 13 September, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will deliver the annual State of the Union speech to the European Parliament.
This essential address marks the beginning in earnest of the Autumn session of the Parliament, and sets out the EU's policy priorities for the coming year.
It will be designed to respond to a "changing political and economic landscape" and will seek to deliver "a secure, prosperous and inclusive future of Europe".
Earlier this year, the Commission set out some of its thinking on the future of Europe in a special White Paper outlining possible scenarios for cooperation.
It highlighted a range of pressing issues likely to be discussed in the speech, including:
- The impact of technology on the world of work
- How to address climate change
- The impact of migration
- Europe's relative geopolitical influence
- The legacy of the economic crisis
- The influence of an ageing population
- Security threats in neighbouring regions and at home
- The rise of populist and nationalist rhetoric
With so many pressing existential questions to be answered, the world will be watching with great interest to see how Europe's leaders opt to set the tone for the months ahead.
If last year's speech was shaped by the still-raw shock of the Brexit vote, 2017's speech sees a bloc every bit as determined to assert its global identity and intentions. Indeed, President Juncker's 2016 insistence on the immutability of the core principles of the EU has remained steadfast as the concrete negotiations for the UK's departure grow sharper-ended and the stakes more tangible.
On a global level, there is evidence of the same intensification of the currents identified in last year's speech. Economically, with a new populist protectionism in the air almost a year into the presidency of Donald Trump, President Juncker may opt to set forth the case for openness and trade with reference to specific deals and internal market initiatives.
Against a backdrop of unprecedented global fractiousness, Europe's leadership is also likely to take the opportunity to press for peace and a de-escalation of the warlike rhetoric recently rising in East Asia, taking up the mantle of advocating for a cautious and diplomatic approach.
Having declared last uear that "Europe has a great mission in the world", the events of 2016 are likely to spur President Juncker on in his conviction that his office holds a unique role in defending liberal values on the global stage.
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The DeHavilland EU Team
Based in London and Brussels, the DeHavilland EU Team is dedicated to bringing clients informative and timely political information in a format that suits their needs.