Juncker insists on Romania and Bulgaria entering Schengen in EU State of Union address

EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Juncker insists on Romania and Bulgaria entering Schengen in EU State of Union address


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“There cannot be second-class workers in Europe”, said today EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his annual keynote State of the European Union address to the European Parliament. “People working in the same place doing the same work should receive the same remuneration.”

Juncker was echoing French president Emmanuel Macron who campaigns against EU rules on the employment abroad of workers from low-pay countries, calling the current system a “betrayal” of European values.

“There can be no second-class consumers in Europe“, also said Juncker. “I cannot accept that people, especially in central and eastern Europe, are buying poorer quality products with the same labels and packaging as in other countries.”

He also insisted on Romania and Bulgaria entering Schengen the visa-free Schengen area:

“It is high time to bring Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area. Croatia too deserves full membership in the Schengen area as soon as all criteria are met.”

Migration

Juncker also stressed that migration is one of his main preoccupations:

“We have been successful in reducing the number of irregular arrivals by 97 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean corridor thanks to Turkey. With regards the Central Mediterranean corridor, irregular migrant arrivals have gone down by 81 %”.

He also said that “Italy is saving the honour of Europe in the Mediterranean.”

Here are some of the other highlights:

Rule of law, Turkey 

“In Europe, law has muscle, it’s not muscle that lays down the law.”

“In Europe, the law is safeguarded by an independent judiciary. Being part of a union that is built on the rule of law means respecting court judgements.”

“Our member states have given the European Court of Justice the powers to take the ultimate decision and that means ECJ judgements have to be respected in all cases.”

“Failing to respect them and undermining national justice systems means stealing citizens’ fundamental rights.”

“In the EU, the rule of law is not optional, it’s a duty.”

“Our union is not a state but it’s still governed by the rule of law.”

“And that rules out membership for Turkey for the foreseeable future.”

“Compromises are an art, a way of bridging our differences… People who struggle with compromises, struggle with democracy and struggle with Europe.”

Eurozone

“We need a European minister of economy and finance to promote structural reform in our member states.”

“We don’t need a separate euro zone budget, we need a strong euro zone budget line within the existing EU budget.”

“Nor do I see great merit in a separate euro zone parliament.”

“All but two member states are legally bound to join (the euro zone).”

Security/Defence/Foreign Policy 

“The EU also needs to be stronger on fighting terrorism… (That is why we are proposing) an agency to ensure automatic exchange of data on foreign fighters.”

“The EU should also have more influence on the world stage. It needs to be able to make its foreign policy decisions more quickly… The time has come to take foreign policy decisions in certain cases by qualified majority.”

“In the field of defence, more efforts are required… By 2025, we will need a functioning EU defence union. We need it, and NATO would like us to have it.”

Trade

“I’d like to reinforce, to strengthen our European trade programmes. Europe is open to trade but there must be reciprocity. We have to get as much back as we put in.”

“Partners across the globe are lining up at our door to conclude trade agreements with us.”

“Today, we are proposing to open trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand…. I would like these trade agreements to be completed by the end of our mandate.”

“Trade is not an abstract concept, it’s jobs, new opportunities for European businesses.”

“Every million (euro) of exports that we have equals 14,000 extra jobs in Europe.”

“Trade is also exporting our social and environmental rules… protection of data and food safety.”

“We suggest today a new framework for the EU on… investment screening.”

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