The President of the European People’s Party (EPP), Joseph DAUL has warmly welcomed European Commission President Jean-Claude JUNCKER’s State of the Union assessment and expressed his full support for the proposals presented today. On this occasion, he made the following statement.

“As we reflect on the achievements of this Commission, we must feel proud about how far we have come. Under the leadership of President Juncker, Europe has registered 21 consecutive quarters of economic growth, 12 million jobs have been created since 2014, youth unemployment has been reduced to its lowest level since 2000 and, through the European Fund for Strategic Investment, almost €400bn investment has been stimulated across our continent. We have built strong relationships across the world and now have trade agreements with 70 countries which defend EU interests and standards. All of this was made possible because we acted together, as one and having the EU speaking with one voice.

Despite our achievements, the internal and external challenges that Europe faces today are considerable. Our response to these challenges will be crucial to the future peace and prosperity of our union. It must be one of unity not division, openness instead of nationalism and solidarity instead of egoism.

Freedom, democracy, equality, academic liberty, rule of law, respect for human rights and a free civil society, these are the values that have maintained the peace and brought the prosperity our continent has enjoyed for the past 70 years. We must neither forget where we came from nor take for granted what the EU has achieved. Our common future can only be bright if Europe is on a good path and this is more than a trivial challenge.

This is why our work must continue in three important areas: protecting our citizens, offering them security and defending European values.

To protect our citizens, we must strengthen our foreign policy, fight terrorism, advance our defence union, reinforce the European Union’s role as global player in the face of globalisation and continue fighting climate change by modernising our economy.

To ensure the security of European citizens and workers, we must promote the social market economy and prepare our workforces for digitalisation and create more and new jobs. We must also find a lasting solution to migration, further secure our borders and forge a close partnership with Africa. I particularly welcome the decision to increase the European Border and Coast Guard to 10,000 members by 2020. This is a position that the EPP has long advocated for and it was made now a reality. This is an example of a successful joint action to tackle illegal migration. We also have to ensure the swift return of those in illegal situation in Europe.

To defend the European values and way of life, we must continue to tackle fake news, ensure free and fair elections without foreign interference and protect the rule of law and fundamental freedoms both internally and externally.

We are not only united in diversity, we are united in adversity. When we speak with one voice, when we act as one, this is when we best serve the interests of European citizens. We stand with President Juncker to continue working to protect the European people and support his action until the end of the mandate of his Commission.”