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A better Europe: group leaders set out their expectations for the State of the EU debate

From Brexit and the economy, to the migration crisis and the terrorism threat, Europe is facing many challenges. The annual State of the EU debate on 14 September is an opportunity for MEPs to discuss the direction for the EU to take with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Read on to find out what political group leaders expect and how you can follow it yourself.

The State of the Union speech and debate takes place every year since 2010 during the first plenary session of September. The president of the European Commission delivers his speech evaluating the past year as well as setting out priorities for the coming year. The speech is then followed by a debate with MEPs.

Manfred Weber (EPP, Germany)

Europeans expect Europe to bring concrete results on what matters most: their safety, their economic situation, their children’s future. Europe and the member states need to deliver in the fight against terrorism, solve the refugee crisis, and bring more jobs and growth. It should have its voice heard in the world. The European Commission and Parliament are taking this role seriously. National governments need to understand this too. It is now or never.

Gianni Pittella (S&D, Italy)

Much has been done, but more must be delivered. The S&D Group calls on the Commission to reinforce the investment strategy, incorporating flexibility into EU law. The migration compact and relocation system must be implemented and followed by common measures on security. We want an ethical economy with tougher measures against tax evasion and conflicts of interest. If the EU does not live up to citizens’ expectations, it risks disintegrating.

Syed Kamall (ECR, UK)

While others call for “More Europe”, or “No Europe”, the ECR will be the only group calling for a “Better Europe” based on decentralisation, fairness, diversity and respect for all member states. These principles have been neglected, leading to more scepticism. The EU is too large to continue centralising and harmonising. People want solutions to challenges like security, but not new EU powers or agencies. Let us ask how we can better cooperate, not how we advance the European project.

Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL, Germany)

One thing was clear from the Brexit referendum: the EU cannot go on like this. Without fundamental changes, this unique project will fail. The EU has been devastated by so many crises and citizens’ trust in its institutions is in free fall; Presidents Juncker and Tusk must provide the answers to these monumental challenges. Merely “business as usual” is no longer an option. If our leaders fail to tackle unemployment and social inequality; fail to find common solutions to the migration crisis; and cannot guarantee a secure future for our youths then the EU will just wither away – and with it, its legitimacy.

Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, Germany)

The trust of European citizens is a precondition for the EU’s stability. How do we regain it? By defending the EU as the answer to the danger of nationalism and by taking the citizens’ doubts seriously. We need to design our policies on the protection and admission of refugees, the fight against the reasons for people fleeing and on cooperation for security in Europe in a combined way. Accelerating the transformation towards a green economy will allow us to create new life chances for young Europeans and to address the growing divide between urban and rural areas. The Apple case has demonstrated that the EU can deliver on tax-justice in Europe, too.

David Borrelli (EFDD, Italy)

Terrorism, Brexit, migration crisis, unemployment, TTIIP… Everything we talked about in 2016 will be talked about again in 2017. Nevertheless I would like to hear from Juncker that one day we can talk about how they will affect the inhabitants of Treviso, Scandicci, Buonabitacolo, Taranto: that is to say the average person. Because the peoples of Europe have been walking this path together despite two World Wars, not because of the large challenges they had to face or because they had large schemes, but because they had faith in their representatives. Therefore it is now time to talk about trust and hope.

Nigel Farage (EFDD, UK)

I commented last year that the EU was in a “state of disunion” and indeed it was; but few could have foreseen the crushing blows that it has received over the last 12 months. There’s the ongoing migrant crisis, a disaster which has itself profoundly shaken the EU’s foundations but during this the Dutch voted “No” and of course, Brexit. The EU has ignorantly stumbled through difficult times before, comforted by either stupidity or arrogance, however this is one crisis that will not go away soon.

Marcel de Graaff (ENF, the Netherlands)

This European Commission has proven itself to be incapable of solving the big crises that have hit the European Union. As a result the United Kingdom has already left. Which countries are about to follow? The European Union is incapable of fundamental change towards national sovereignty. Therefore, this EU must be resolved and make place for a community of national states that cooperate on a win-win basis. Juncker is not the right person to guide the Union to these goals and should resign.

Marine Le Pen (ENF, France)

The European Union is synonymous with crisis: of the economy, social and monetary affairs, mass immigration, terrorism with costly agencies that are not able to accomplish anything. Nothing has functioned or barely and more federalism, as the pro-Europeans are calling for, will only make the situation worse.

In addition to regaining its sovereignty, France must give the example of another way for its people and for a Europe of freedoms.

How to follow the State of the Union debate

Our dashboard contains live streaming as well as background information, profiles of key speakers and political groups, photos, relevant tweets and videos and much more.

Our Storify coverage will bring you live updates, including quotes, photos and videos throughout the debate.

On Tuesday 13 September, President Martin Schulz will give a live and interactive video interview on Parliament’s Facebook page. The State of the EU debate will also be streamed live on Facebook on 14 September.

Find out what MEPs have to say about the State of the EU on social media using EP Newshub.

In addition you can get live updates in your own language thanks to our Twitter accounts. During the debate a video quote from each political leader will be tweeted. After the debate the best tweets about the discussion will be gathered together in Twitter moments. You can also join the online discussion using the hashtag #SOTEU.

Compliments of the European Parliament