On September 12, Commission President Barroso held his annual State of the Union Address before the European Parliament. Prior to its delivery, spokespersons for the Commission had already hailed the speech as being groundbreaking. It included both further plans of the European Commission and the exact form the single supervisory mechanism will take. Overall, the speech did not contain many new aspects.
Delivering his annual State of the Union Address, the Commission President revealed how he would imagine deeper European integration. He was thinking of a “federation of nation states”, which would form a political union. He emphasised that nation states would by no means be abolished and that he did want to create a “superstate” under any circumstances. A first step towards the much cited banking union is the European Banking Authority, which was also introduced by Barroso. The mechanism, controlled by the ECB shall supervise thousands of banks within the EU and commence its work in early 2013. Apart from that, the Commission will represent before the end of autumn a proposal concerning a further deepening of the economic and monetary union with the far-reaching transfer of national competencies to Brussels. In order to achieve the objective of a political union, proposals for Treaty changes should ideally have been presented before the 2014 European Parliament elections.

Not only an economic, but a social crisis

Barroso emphasised in his speech that the current crisis would not only be an economic and financial crisis, but that Europe was also in a social crisis. He also praised the social systems in Europe and made references to the “Youth package” with proposals for a “youth guarantee” in accordance with the Austrian model. Nevertheless, he continued to devote large parts of his speech to the neoliberal mantra of liberalisations, structural and labour market reforms. However, his address was lacking concrete proposals for European measures to protect employees against the effects of the crisis and it is still a long way off the “Social Compact” demanded by the European Trade Union Confederation ETUC, which would offer better working and living standards, social security standards, fair wages and a guarantee for all young people in Europa to receive a decent job or a vocational training position after four months of unemployment at the latest. It will be the task of the labour representatives to remind the Commission and the Member States of this again and again!

Further Links:

State of the Union 2012 Address by EU Commission President Barroso

ETUC Resolution on the Social Compact