President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, in his state-of-the union address last week before the European Parliament at Strasbourg, France, called for the European Union (EU) to be secure from the many threats that faced it.
Yet, Juncker blatantly declared:"We will not militarize the European Union. What we want is to become more autonomous and live up to our global responsibilities...Only a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens against threats internal and external - from terrorism to climate change."
The internationally acclaimed statesman, in his final year of leading the EU Commission, made recommendations toward the continuity of the continental pact, while he unveiled a vision for Europe's "twin continent" - Africa, which would help create 10 million jobs in Africa in the next five years. He called for the new Africa-Europe alliance to be based upon cooperation and not charity. "We will create framework that brings more private investment to Africa," Juncker envisioned.
His remarks on Africa were appropriate as a means to stemming economic migration from the continent into Europe - one of the key sources of increased tension and the rise of the far right throughout Europe in recent years.
Of the populist movements present across the EU and brought to wrought by increased migration of conflict and economic refugees, Juncker concluded: "We should embrace the kind of patriotism that is used for good, and never against others...We should reject the kind of exaggerated nationalism that projects hate and destroys all in its path. The kind of nationalism that points the finger at others instead of searching for ways to better live together," the BBC-News reported.
In respect to migration, the Luxembourg statesman stressed the need for legal routes for migration into Europe declaring: "We need skilled migrants", yet he emphasized that illegal immigration would be tackled by among others things, deploying an addition 10,000 guards to the EU borders by 2020. And in expressing humanitarian empathy to migrants, Juncker called for more EU solidarity, rather than "ad-hoc solutions" for people on migrant ships.
Very proud that "Europe's economy has now grown for 21 consecutive quarters" and that "Never have so many men and women - 239 million people - been in work in Europe," Juncker however cautioned that "Youth unemployment is at 14.8 %. This too high a figure but is the lowest it has been since the year 2000."
Juncker has been a relentless statesman as head of the EU despite the migration crisis of 2015, Britain's looming departure in 2019, the rise of the far right and strains from Hungary, Italy, Poland, Austria and Sweden. Under his stewardship, he has managed to keep most of the bloc intact amid sound economic gains and opportunities, thus the EU stands as one, if not the most, viable of economic blocs in the world.