State of the Union 2018: The Hour of European Sovereignty

State of the Union 2018: The Hour of European Sovereignty

Last year, some 25 million people from sub-Saharan Africa lived outside their countries, according to a Pew Research study.

"Let us show the European Union a bit more respect and stop dragging its name though the mud".

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said, "Parliament wants, more than ever, to be at the heart of democracy".

Africa should be helped with trade and investment rather than rely on aid, Juncker will say, while also proposing to beef up Europe's defenses against poor Africans heading north.

But increasingly, Europe is emulating China's approach to Africa - focusing on trade, and on partnerships - not conflicts and charity. He also proposed to reinforce Europe's external borders by investing in the European Border and Coast Guard, adding ten thousand new border guards by 2020. "Ad-hoc solutions are not adequate, we need more solidarity and it must be organised".

Delivering his annual state-of-the-union speech to the European Parliament, Juncker said the EU will not allow Britain to participate only in some parts of the bloc's single market after Brexit without honouring all of its rules.

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On the Irish border, Juncker said that member states would show solidarity with Ireland because the European Union was against a hard border. "But we will equally be very outspoken should the British government walk away from its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement", he said.

Juncker said he hoped that a free trade deal could nonetheless be agreed upon with the United Kingdom, which he said would always remain a very close neighbour and partner in political, economic and security terms.

His comments come after Barnier said a deal between the European Union and Britain could be struck within the next eight weeks, giving Mrs May's Chequers plan a lifeline.

"Too many of our journalists are intimidated, attacked or even murdered...we can not have democracy without free press", Juncker said. In May next year, a new parliament will be elected and in September it is expected to be busy with approving the new college of commissioners appointed by member states. "We welcome the focus the Commission is bringing to this and we'll continue to engage closely with them, member states and law enforcement on this crucial issue". The new rules would make political parties and organizations liable for fines of up to 5% of their annual budget if they are found in violation of European Union privacy laws in an effort to influence the outcome of European Union elections. "It will not be the commission that will stand in the way of this".

The vision involves what he calls a "continent-to-continent" free-trade agreement.

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