State of the European Union

Sep 9, 2015

Earlier today, President Jean Claude Juncker of the European Commission made his State of the European Union address to the European Parliament.

This morning’s address was of heightened importance with the European Union in the midst of one of the most challenging and turbulent eras of its history. The refugee crisis, instability on our borders, slow economic performance, and the challenge of addressing climate change are all risks to the European project which have political and economic implications for all member states.

Ireland’s economic performance is heavily reliant on external factors and the State of the European Union address acknowledged that if the EU is to succeed in providing jobs and growth for its citizens, it will need to prioritise making the Single Market more accessible for SMEs. Cutting red tape, breaking down barriers and increasing trade were all flagged as priorities for the Commission in the coming 12 months. Since SMEs make up more that 99% of business across the EU, ensuring that small businesses are supported and facilitated by the EU in trading and operating across borders will be of paramount importance. This is an issue that Chambers Ireland will continue to call for on behalf of our network.

President Junker’s commitment to addressing unemployment, particularly long term unemployment, is also welcome and will be crucial if we are to succeed in bringing European economies back to a state of sustainable growth and prosperity. The Commission announced yesterday that it will unveil a plan next week to address unemployment at European level. This plan must also address the needs of the Irish economy, although amongst the fastest growing economies in Europe, is still grappling with the legacy of the recession with youth unemployment remaining at far too high a level.

What resonated with me most in today’s address was President Junker’s call for a much closer union. Concluding his speech he noted the need for “more Europe in our Union” and more “Union in our Union”.

If we are to succeed in overcoming the challenges of slow economic growth, climate change and political instability, we will need to work together. Vision and leadership is required from the EU, on everything from migration to economic policy but we need solidarity amongst member states to address these issues.

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