“Our Values are our compass” says President Juncker
By Aoileann Ní Bhroin
Posted: 13 September, 2017
PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER’S State of the Union Address 2017
Our values are our compass.
For me, Europe is more than just a single market. More than money, more than the euro. It was always about values. There are three principles that must always anchor our Union: freedom, equality and the rule of law.
Europe is first of all a Union of freedom. Freedom from the kind of oppression and dictatorship our continent knows all too well – sadly none more than central and Eastern Europe. Freedom to voice your opinion, as a citizen and as a journalist – a freedom we too often take for granted. It was on these freedoms that our Union was built. But freedom does not fall from the sky. It must be fought for. In Europe and throughout world.
Second, Europe must be a Union of equality.
Equality between its Members, big and small, East and West, North and South. Make no mistake, Europe extends from Vigo to Varna. From Spain to Bulgaria. East to West: Europe must breathe with both lungs. Otherwise our continent will struggle for air. In a Union of equals, there can be no second class citizens. It is unacceptable that in 2017 there are still children dying of diseases that should long have been eradicated in Europe. Children in Romania or Italy must have the same access to measles vaccines as other children right across Europe. No ifs, no buts. This is why we are working with all Member States to support national vaccination efforts. Avoidable deaths must not occur in Europe.
In a Union of equals, there can be no second class workers. Workers should earn the same pay for the same work in the same place. This is why the Commission proposed new rules on posting of workers. We should make sure that all EU rules on labour mobility are enforced in a fair, simple and effective way by a new European inspection and enforcement body. It seems absurd to have a Banking Authority to police banking standards, but no common Labour Authority for ensuring fairness in our single market. We will create one.
In a Union of equals, there can be no second class consumers. I will not accept that in some parts of Europe,people are sold food of lower quality than in other countries, despite the packaging and branding being identical. Slovaks do not deserve less fish in their fish fingers. Hungarians less meat in their meals. Czechs less cacao in their chocolate. EU law outlaws such practices already. We must now equip national authorities with stronger powers to cut out any illegal practices wherever they exist.
Third, in Europe the strength of the law replaced the law of the strong. The rule of law means that law and justice are upheld by an independent judiciary. Accepting and respecting a final judgement is what it means to be part of a Union based on the rule of law. Member States gave final jurisdiction to the European Court of Justice. The judgements of the Court have to be respected by all. To undermine them, or to undermine the independence of national
courts, is to strip citizens of their fundamental rights.
The rule of law is not optional in the European Union. It is a must.
Our Union is not a State but it is a community of law.