European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will argue the euro should become the global currency for trade instead of the U.S. dollar in his State of the Union speech Wednesday morning.
Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, he will make a pitch for the EU to “punch above its weight, not below,” according to an EU diplomat briefed on the speech. Junckers message will be that with the Trump administration withdrawing the U.S. from the world, there is an opportunity for Europe to fill the gap. “Theres no logic at all in paying energy imports in dollar not euro,” an EU diplomat said.
Borrowing a phrase from French President Emmanuel Macron, Junckers motto for the speech will be “a Europe that protects.” Under that rubric, the Commission president will outline a strengthened structure and bolder mandate for the EUs Coast and Border Guard, as POLITICO previously reported. Hes expected to propose the EU agency — which will soon have 10,000 operational staff — get its hands dirty by assisting EU countries to return asylum seekers whose applications for refuge are denied. (In practice, that will mainly cover returns of those who arrive by boat and are in “closed centers,” which havent yet been established.)
In a move that may be seen in some countries as an attempted power grab by Brussels, Juncker will propose giving the EU a “stronger mandate on returns,” which will include the power to seek the travel documents from the home countries of those asylum seekers who are to be returned, and the power to complete the paperwork for return decisions for member countries. An EU diplomat briefing reporters on Junckers speech said it is meant to “help break the deadlock” on migration in response to criticism that the EU doesnt secure its borders.
Juncker, who is delivering his final State of the Union speech, will also propose specific foreign policy areas in which the EU should switch to majority (rather than unanimity) votes, according to the diplomat. They will include sanctions, human rights and in launching civilian missions.
In response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Juncker will also propose rules for how political parties can use personal data. The measures will include “guidance on the application of the EUs General Data Protection Regulation,” as well as a legislation amending the rules on European political party funding, introducing fines of up to 5 percent of the annual budget of a party if data protection rules are infringed.
According to diplomats, the Commission will adopt 18 initiatives that will accompany Junckers speech. They will include measures to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content online, an Africa package that will seek to shift economic relations from doling out development aid to engaging in trade, anti money-laundering proposals, and a move to scrap the changing of clocks from summer time.