Eying Stronger Economic Growth

Beyond mere respect for tradition, the State of the Union address by the President of the European Commission at the European Parliament Plenary Chamber in Strasbourg on 13 September, 2017 raised much hope for the EU. Coming at a time that some events have planted seeds of Euro-pessimism in certain minds; President Jean-Claude Juncker felt comfortable presenting a favourable global picture of economic growth in the entire EU bloc while hoping that those gains will be consolidated. Although still being hunted by the dramatic Brexit vote last year which saw the United Kingdom opting out of the European Union, Mr Juncker affirmed that; “We will keep moving. We will move on because Brexit isn’t everything.” With unemployment witnessing a downward trend and forecasts in the euro area showing that it could drop from 9.4 per cent in 2017 to 8.9 per cent in 2018, rising domestic demand, structural reforms and other government policies in some European countries have all combined to create prospects for a forward looking EU. Given positive projections of that nature, President Juncker had no doubts announcing that the “wind is back in Europe’s sails,” meaning Europe had raison to remain optimistic instead. Of course, by presenting the present appreciable image of the entire European Union, the Commission President is not calling for members-countries to fold their arms. Specific actions have to be taken and others sustained over the years not only to maintain current gains, but equally ensure a strong and vibrant EU, no matter the challenges. Until now, not all European countries are part of the eurozone and the need to broaden the Schengen area in which passport-free travels are allowed remain some major concerns. Such feet dragging certainly have negative consequences on commercial transactions and the movement of persons. Instances of cyber security, which know no boundaries, have in recent decades been identified as obstacles to economic development even in the most technologically advanced countries and the EU has to depend on partners both within the continent and elsewhere to tackle the threat. Security issues that have of late, touched on the form and strength of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, as well as the massive influx of refugees and the protection of the European economic space, do require that the continent should build a common vision. Thus, the State of the Union’s address by the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker on 13 September came this year as a galvanising message to a Union that is endowed with great potentials and challenges that exist today and the day after can be tackled to ensure progress.

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