La Treizième Étoile: 05/09/10 - 12/09/10 Blog Archives
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Why I'm uneasy ahead of Barroso's historic first-ever 'State of the European Union' address

Monday, 6 September 2010
History is set to be made in the morning (7th) as the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso is set to stand at the central lectern in the plenary chamber in Strasbourg and before MEPs at 8am in the morning UK time begin to make his first-ever ‘State of the Union’ address. I, on the other hand, may decide to fall out of bed shortly before the start, throw cold water over my face, stumble to the coffee machine before tuning in and half paying attention – a scenario I’m sure a few of the MEPs would prefer. But it is not just the timing that I have a problem with regarding this latest historical EU event...

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First-ever 'State of the Union' address to dominate opening Strasbourg plenary of 2010-11 session

Sunday, 5 September 2010
The European Parliament is set to resume its business in Strasbourg tomorrow after its summer break and the first plenary session is set to be dominated by the first annual 'state of the union' address by the Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso addressing the European Parliament in StrasbourgAs confirmed in a Commission statement earlier this week, Mr Barroso will begin delivering his address at 8am UK GMT on Tuesday morning in which he will give his assessment of where the Union stands and outline the political challenges for the next 12 months.

In the scheduled three-hour time slot, instead of addressing the chamber from his usual position on the sidelines amongst the rest of the college of Commissioners, Mr Barroso will speak from the central lectern – which is normally reserved for visiting heads of state.

The move, which has ruffled the feathers of many eurosceptics due to its symbolic nature, is said to be part of an attempt to “personalise” the image of Mr Barroso as part of a radically-revamped EU communications policy in light of the latest Eurobarometer poll that shows EU popularity at its lowest ever level.

In the survey, carried out in May 2010 and published last week, fewer than half of Europe's citizens (49%) said that their country's membership of the EU is a "good thing" while overall trust in the each of the EU’s numerous institutions dropped to 42%.

In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Mr Barroso argued that is “normal” that citizens' confidence drops during such times but was keen to place the blame for this decline on the individual nation states for not standing up and defending the EU project.

I admit that we should do more together in order to give confidence to citizens and consumers. But I also want to tell the truth: We won't solve the problems unless each nation sees the European project as its own,” he said.

In fact this is not the case now. When things go well it's their merit and when they go wrong it's Brussels' fault.

While this message is likely to be repeated in Mr Barroso’s address, expect also to see France’s expulsion of the Roma, the ambitious Europe 2020 plan, the budget and a call for further economic governance to figure prominently in the speech.

Should you wish, the speech will be streamed online via EPLive.

SEE ALSO: Editorial: Why I'm uneasy ahead of Barroso's historic first-ever 'State of the European Union' address

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