Last year, “I told you that there is not enough union in this union,” he said, according to a transcript of the address provided by the commission. “I am not going to stand here today and tell you that everything is now fine.”
Referring to June’s Brexit referendum, Juncker stated: “We are even faced with the unhappy prospect of a member leaving our ranks.”
He continued: “Do we give in to a very natural feeling of frustration? Do we allow ourselves to become collectively depressed? Do we want to let our Union unravel before our eyes?”
“Or do we say: Is this not the time to pull ourselves together?”
Among the commission president’s proposals for coming year:
“We propose today to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020.” More from EUObserver and Slate.
The creation of a single EU defence headquarters (“We should also move towards common military assets, in some cases owned by the EU. And, of course, in full complementarity with NATO.”) More from Reuters and the BBC.
The creation of a European Defence Fund “to turbo boost research and innovation”.
The launch of a €44bn “Investment Plan for Africa” and neighbouring regions, which Juncker hoped member states will match up to €88bn.
Text of the full speech was published by the Independent.
In a statement issued following the address, Sven Giegold, a German Green MEP, said the investment plan did not go far enough. He called for more funds to flow to “meaningful projects” such as combating climate change.