Commenting on today’s State of the European Union address by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Noelle O Connell, Executive Director of European Movement Ireland, said: “In his final address as Commission President, Mr. Juncker’s speech touched on a very broad range of topics and ambitions for the future: the role of the EU as a global player; climate change; migration; digitalisation; security and defence; next year’s European Parliament elections and Brexit.
“President’s Juncker’s remarks on Brexit were understandably of great interest from an Irish perspective. Indeed, it is very welcome that his comments mirrored our own Brexit priorities so closely. He reiterated the solidarity with Ireland from the Commission, Parliament and the 26 Member States when it comes to the Irish Border and the Commission’s stated determination to prevent a hard border and to protect the Good Friday Agreement. At the same time, he made it clear that the UK and the EU would continue to have a very close relationship in the future, including through a free trade area which will be vital for Ireland’s economy.
“Given the importance placed on next year’s European Parliament elections, it is disappointing that that the opportunity wasn’t seized to recognise the role that people across the Member States are playing in shaping the future direction of the EU through national Citizens’ Dialogues, particularly as the Commission itself has been to the fore in championing these initiatives during President Juncker’s tenure.”