Following the State of the Union address by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European People’s Party (EPP), Joseph Daul, made the following statement:

“Jean-Claude Juncker has placed the European people at the heart of Europe’s vision for its future. The EPP could not agree more. There is no European Union without its people. It is high time to break the image of Brussels’ ivory tower. We need first to address the main concerns of our citizens and then take measures to engage in direct dialogue with them.

European citizens have the right to feel safe at home, and it is our duty to do everything in our power to make this happen. To protect Europeans, we need a European Defence and Security Union worthy of the name. This is not about war; this is about preserving our lasting peace. On migration, a number of concrete measures, such as a European Border and Coast Guard, have been put in place. But to stem the flow of migrants while fulfilling our humanitarian obligations, we still need to achieve an effective system for safeguarding the EU’s external borders and a common European asylum system.

But a sense of safety also comes from economic stability. EU citizens must be able to look at the future with confidence and be assured they can provide for their families. Now that economic prospects are looking better and employment has never been so high in the EU, we have an opportunity to strengthen the social dimension of the EU and reduce social inequalities. Each action taken, each euro spent, must improve the lives of the European people. This is the commitment of the EPP: to prepare for tomorrow in such a way as to give the greatest opportunities to future generations.

There is no Union without the Europeans citizens each of whom is equal. We fully support Jean-Claude Juncker in getting rid of double standards and discrepancies: “the same pay for the same work in the same place”. Each European citizen must also have access to the same quality of products. A European citizen must be able to find in his or her local store a product of the same high-quality standards as products on the other side of the European Union. Our strength is in our unity.

Jean-Claude Juncker is right: we need to reach “the hearts and minds of Europeans”. The European Union needs to be more accountable and open to its citizens. It is our duty, as a European political party, to bring the EU closer to its citizens and to better explain its benefits. The EPP is also committed to the Spitzenkandidaten process and to reaching out to all Europeans across the continent. It is high time to reconnect.