Jean-Claude Juncker: EU needs reform

"I am only interested in institutional reforms if they lead to more efficiency in our Union", Junker said

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Juncker
EPA/European Parliament/Mathieu Cugnot

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday said the bloc must make reforms for a better future.

“We started to fix the roof. But we must now complete the job now that the sun is shining and whilst it still is”, Juncker said in his State of the Union Address in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“I am only interested in institutional reforms if they lead to more efficiency in our Union”, he added.

Juncker suggested merging the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, saying: “Europe would function better.”

“More democracy means more efficiency”, he said.

Junker
EPA/European Parliament/Mathieu Cugnot

In response to French President Emmanuel Macron‘s proposal to set up a new parliament for the single-currency area, Juncker said: “The parliament of the euro area is the European Parliament.”

However, he claimed the EU needs ‘a European Minister of Economy and Finance that promotes and supports structural reforms in our Member States’.

“Now is the time to build a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe for 2025.”

Call for European intelligence unit

Juncker said the bloc must also be stronger in the fight against terrorism.

He called for ‘a European intelligence unit that ensures data concerning terrorists and foreign fighters are automatically shared among intelligence services and with the police’.

“In the past three years, we have made real progress. But we still lack the means to act quickly in case of cross-border terrorist threats”, he said.

Junker
EPA/European Parliament/Mathieu Cugnot

Juncker also said he is looking for ‘a new European Public Prosecutor with prosecuting cross-border terrorist crimes’.

He added that the Schengen area of free movement should be opened to Bulgaria and Romania immediately ‘if we want to strengthen the protection of our external borders’.

“We should also allow Croatia to become a full Schengen member once it meets all the criteria”, he said.

Cyber-attacks threaten European democracy

Juncker said one of the priorities of the bloc is protecting ‘Europeans in the digital age’.

“We have stepped up the fight against terrorist propaganda and radicalization online. But Europe is still not well-equipped when it comes to cyber-attacks”, he said.

Juncker said cyber-attacks ‘can be more dangerous to the stability of democracies and economies than guns and tanks’.

“Last year alone there were more than 4,000 ransomware attacks per day and 80 percent of European companies experienced at least one cyber-security incident”, he said.

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