The State of the Union debate in the European Parliament

03-09-2015

The United States has a long-standing tradition of presidential State of the Union addresses, in which the President speaks in the Capitol to a joint session of Congress, thus fulfilling his constitutional obligation. In contrast to the US Constitution, the EU Treaties do not prescribe the EU State of the Union address given by the President of the European Commission. Rather, that was instigated with the 2010 Framework agreement between the European Parliament and the European Commission as part of the annual political and legislative programming of the Union. Four State of the Union speeches were delivered by President José Manuel Barroso between 2010 and 2013 during his second term as Commission President, marked mainly by the economic and financial crisis in the EU. The State of the Union speech by the President of the European Commission constitutes an important instrument for ex-ante accountability vis-à-vis Parliament but it is also aimed at rendering the definition of priorities at EU level more transparent and at communicating those priorities to citizens. The 2015 State of the Union speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker takes place in a decisive year for the European Union, marked by the Greek debt crisis, the asylum and immigration crisis as well as international geopolitical challenges. But the State of the Union debate is, for the first time, also set in the broader process of political agenda-setting that started with the 2014 elections to the European Parliament and the nomination of the 'lead candidates' for the Presidency of the Commission. The ensuing election of the President of the Commission by Parliament and the parliamentary hearings of the Commissioners-designate, as well as the adoption of the 2015 Commission Work Programme, led to a politically intense year, changing the context in which Juncker's first State of the Union address has now to be delivered.

The United States has a long-standing tradition of presidential State of the Union addresses, in which the President speaks in the Capitol to a joint session of Congress, thus fulfilling his constitutional obligation. In contrast to the US Constitution, the EU Treaties do not prescribe the EU State of the Union address given by the President of the European Commission. Rather, that was instigated with the 2010 Framework agreement between the European Parliament and the European Commission as part of the annual political and legislative programming of the Union. Four State of the Union speeches were delivered by President José Manuel Barroso between 2010 and 2013 during his second term as Commission President, marked mainly by the economic and financial crisis in the EU. The State of the Union speech by the President of the European Commission constitutes an important instrument for ex-ante accountability vis-à-vis Parliament but it is also aimed at rendering the definition of priorities at EU level more transparent and at communicating those priorities to citizens. The 2015 State of the Union speech by President Jean-Claude Juncker takes place in a decisive year for the European Union, marked by the Greek debt crisis, the asylum and immigration crisis as well as international geopolitical challenges. But the State of the Union debate is, for the first time, also set in the broader process of political agenda-setting that started with the 2014 elections to the European Parliament and the nomination of the 'lead candidates' for the Presidency of the Commission. The ensuing election of the President of the Commission by Parliament and the parliamentary hearings of the Commissioners-designate, as well as the adoption of the 2015 Commission Work Programme, led to a politically intense year, changing the context in which Juncker's first State of the Union address has now to be delivered.