State of the Union address, European Parliament, 2021

Briefing 08-09-2021

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's second State of the Union address, scheduled for 15 September 2021, will be delivered at a time when the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose challenges for the European Union and its Member States. At the same time, thanks to the adoption of the multiannual financial framework for the 2021-2027 period, new opportunities lie ahead – the recovery plan for Europe and Next Generation EU. Furthermore, the Conference on the Future of Europe was finally launched on 9 May 2021. Nevertheless, a number of unresolved issues and new challenges remain. These include ensuring that EU values (Article 2 TEU) are upheld in the Member States, including through the application of the recently adopted Conditionality Regulation, addressing the threat of climate change, and equipping Europe for the digital age. The tradition of EU State of the Union addresses, delivered to the European Parliament by the President of the European Commission, dates back to 2010. The address takes stock of the achievements of the past year and presents priorities for the year ahead. It constitutes an important instrument for the European Commission's ex-ante accountability vis-à-vis Parliament and is also aimed at rendering the definition of priorities at EU level more transparent, and at communicating those priorities to citizens. The event chimes with a similar tradition in national democracies. The United States, for instance, 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 a constitutional obligation. In contrast to the US Constitution, the EU Treaties do not prescribe a State of the Union address; the EU version was established by the 2010 Framework Agreement between Parliament and the Commission. This briefing further updates an earlier one from September 2016, originally written by Eva-Maria Poptcheva.