European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union speech on September 13 was an encouragement to all those who support the great project of European unification. So said Reinhard Bütikofer, co-chair of the European Green Party (EGP).

“The sentiment that Juncker expressed was quite different from last year’s: not gloom and doom, but self-confidence and renewed ambition,” he said. “Juncker spoke against the backdrop of a stronger economy and an important sequence of electoral defeats of different European authoritarian and populist movements. He did not make the mistake of falling into the trap of complacency, but listed clear priorities and a host of important initiatives.”

Bütikofer welcomed the fact that Juncker advocated qualified majority voting on important tax issues and some foreign policy issues in the future in order to give Europe a stronger and more coherent voice.

“Juncker emphasised several times the need to build a union of social standards,” said Bütikofer. “Against those that advocate a core Europe or a two-speed Europe, Juncker insisted on coherence by advocating Eurozone and Schengen membership for member countries that do not yet belong to these systems.”

Bütikofer also agreed with Juncker’s proposal to merge the position of EU Commission President with the Presidency of the European Council. He also backed Juncker’s plans for a European finance minister.

“We hope that the spirit of fighting with self-confidence for a more effective Europe that delivers for its citizens will be picked up by the member states and be transformed together with the EU parliament into our common reality on the ground.”