President Juncker addresses the European Parliament on the guidelines on the framework of future EU-UK relations and on preparations ahead of the European Council meeting of 22 and 23 March 2018
Speaking to MEPs in Strasbourg this morning, President Juncker highlighted that further clarity is needed from the UK to reach an understanding on the future relationship, when he said: “As the clock counts down, with one year to go, it is now time to translate speeches into treaties; to turn commitments into agreements; broad suggestions and wishes on the future relationship to specific, workable solutions.” The President added that this is especially important with regards to Ireland. “Both the United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed that there should be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement must be preserved in all its dimensions. And life for citizens on both sides of the border should be the same as it is today”, President Juncker said, underlining the unity within the European Union and the 27 Member States when it comes to Ireland. “For us, this is not an Irish issue. It is a European issue“, he said. “It is all for one and one for all – that is what it means to be part of this Union”. The full text of President Juncker‘s speech is available online here. The European Commission published the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on 28 February. More information is available here. In a second intervention in the European Parliament today, and following his recent tour of the Western Balkans, President Juncker said that the March European Council is about focussing on building a stronger, more democratic and united Union. Addressing the US decision to impose restrictions on steel and aluminium, President Juncker underlined that in the run-up to the Council, the Commission will continue to make the point that exports from the European Union are clearly not a threat to the United States’ national security: “We will defend our workers, we will defend our industry, and we will do so respecting the rules that the world agreed to under the WTO”, he said. Ahead of the Spring European Council, which will have a strong focus on economic affairs, President Juncker underlined that strengthening the European Union means investing in the architecture of our Economic and Monetary Union, and that now is the time do this as Europe’s economy grows; this includes completing the Banking Union, and developing the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund, he said, stressing that “this is a means to creating the conditions for a better, more prosperous and fairer life for all our citizens”. The full text of the speech is available online here.
COLLEGE MEETING: Commission adopts proposals for a European Labour Authority and for access to social protection: delivering further on the European Pillar of Social Rights
Today, the European Commission is taking more concrete new initiatives to further deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights. More specifically, the Commission presents its proposal for a European Labour Authority, as announced by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address, as well as an initiative to ensure access to social protection for all workers and self-employed. These initiatives are accompanied by a Communication on the monitoring of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which will be closely linked to the European Semester of policy coordination. Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “Europe is now steadily growing and employment is on the rise, but we have to ensure that growth is more inclusive to the benefit of all. This package sets out a number of steps to make that happen: by making sure the rules for people to live and work across the European Union are well known and enforced, by following up on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, pushing the broader momentum for social rights, and by focusing on access to social protection. A stronger social Europe is a more sustainable Europe.” Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, added: “Our work to ensure fair labour mobility culminates in today’s proposal for a European Labour Authority. This is essential for a well-functioning European labour market. It will help citizens and businesses on the move find the right information and strengthen cooperation between the Member States to enforce fair and effective rules. And with our proposal on access to social protection, we are working with Member States to make sure that nobody is left behind. Our aim is to ensure that people have access to adequate benefits no matter how the new world of work evolves.” Commissioner Thyssen‘s press conference on the topic can be watched here. More information is available in this press release, as well as in a detailed memo on the European Labour Authority and a second memo on the Recommendation for access to social protection for workers and self-employed. The main points of the proposals are summarised in a factsheet on the Labour Authority and one on access to social protection. Finally, you can find an update on the implementation of the Pillar of Social Rights in this factsheet.