2018-09-12 – The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, presented today his ‘State of the Union’ (SOTEU 2018) before the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the last one of his mandate as President. In his speech, he mentioned the past, present and future of the European Union by highlighting the achievements of the long history of Europe, the events that have marked this Commission's time in office as well as the priorities his team will pursue in the coming months up to the next European elections of May 2019, i.e. in particular by the Europe’s Leaders meeting on 9 May 2019 in Sibiu (Romania).
“On the road to Sibiu”
President Juncker underlined that Europe turned the page of the economic and financial crisis. Proof of this is the strength of the European Single Market and its ability to create jobs and prosperity: Europe's economy has now grown for 21 consecutive quarters, almost 12 million new jobs have been created since 2014, and unemployment is at one of its lowest levels since the crisis. The European Union also counts trade agreements with 70 countries around the world, covering 40% of the world’s GDP.
He reaffirmed the importance of trade for the EU as one of his priorities, wanting to better position Europe globally. For this, he would like to further work on Trade Agreement Partnerships with a special focus on Africa with whom he foresees a ‘new Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs’ and an increase in investments on the continent of 23%. High on his agenda “on the road to Sibiu” is also the completion of the Security Union with an increased defence spending by 20%; an agreement on the EU budget after 2020; the creation of more opportunities for researchers and start-ups as well as enhancing the role of the EURO globally.
How CEN and CENELEC support Juncker’s State of the Union’s objectives
“It is because of our Single Market – the largest in the world – that we can set standards for big data, artificial intelligence, and automation. And that we are able to uphold Europeans' values, rights and identities in doing so”, said President Juncker in today’s speech. European standardization is an important tool to tackle the challenges of digitalisation and ensure the uptake of new technology in the market. Since 2016, we have been involved in the European Joint Initiative on Standardization, which sets out a common vision for European standardization. It does this through 15 actions, which will lead to an improved European Standardization System (ESS) in line with the current needs and potentials of the Single Market.
We also play an essential role to support Europe’s trade and help the EU positioning itself globally. CEN and CENELEC strong relationship with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as well as the long-standing collaboration on standardization with countries outside Europe offer a strategic input, which provides real added-value to current and future European Commission’s negotiations on trade agreements.
CEN and CENELEC support Juncker’s call for a strengthened relationship with Africa centred on the African countries’ growth, trade and economic development. We consider Africa among the top five regions representing a high strategic interest for standardization work. We have developed an action plan with ARSO and AFSEC, the two pan-African standardization organizations, which will focus on enabling technology and knowledge transfer from Europe to Africa in view of developing, in a sustainable manner, a much-needed critical infrastructure, including electricity, road, rail, and communication.
CEN and CENELEC will continue working alongside their stakeholders to deliver relevant and timely standardization solutions to support the European economy.