EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker
The EU Commission chief will give his annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament on Wednesday, in which he sets out the project’s priorities for 2017-18.
With the Brexit negotiations in full flow and Italy facing a migration crisis – but also a sense of increased optimism about the future of the EU – commentators say the speech could define his presidency.
Next year will also see a number of crunch elections in countries including Italy, Sweden, Hungary and the Czech Republic where eurosceptic parties are still performing strongly.
And so, as Europe waits to hear his solutions express.co.uk explores what Mr Juncker can be expected to say in his speech – and which territory he is less likely to venture into.
The issue of migration featured strongly in Mr Juncker’s address last year, which came at a time when Europe was still struggling to cope with over a million new arrivals.
Since then the situation has abated somewhat, thanks largely to a refugee deal with Turkey, although a new front has opened up in Italy, where more than 100,000 people have landed from Libya.
Mr Juncker can be expected to reaffirm his commitment to Angela Merkel’s great investment plan for Africa, which designed to address the root causes of migration by boosting economies.
But he is also likely to talk about stepping up deportations and ensuring only those in genuine need of protection are allowed to stay in Europe, mirroring a toughening in EU rhetoric over the last six months.
Another year has seen another round of deadly terror attacks in Europe. In 2017 there has already been the Manchester bombing and two atrocities in London, plus the massacre in Barcelona.
On top of that there have been numerous other attacks on soldiers, police officers and members of the public. Several EU leaders, including Emmanuel Macron, have prioritised stamping out Islamist extremism.
Mr Juncker is therefore likely to strongly reiterate his plans for a ‘Security Union’ which would step up cooperation between security services in Member States.
Brussels wants to tackle radicalisation online, set up its own cyber security operation, crackdown on people who provide funding to terrorist groups and boost the efficiency of shared databases.
Going hand-in-hand with security are the EU’s ambitious – and highly controversial, especially in Britain – plans to…