In his annual State of the Union address, European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the time has come for the EU to flex its muscles.
“The geopolitical situation makes this Europe’s hour: the time for European sovereignty has come,” he said.
He urged EU states to capitalize on a chance to change the world, rather than fight one another over budgets, immigration and other issues.
“Whenever Europe speaks as one, we can impose our position on others,” he urged.
He pointed out the success of the deal he struck with United States President Donald Trump which stalled a transatlantic war and won the EU many plaudits.
Although Juncker made no direct comment on the US president or his policy decisions, aides, however, believed that he was referencing an apparent retreat by the US into “selfish unilateralism”.
He also urged finding new opportunities to work with countries like China and Japan to develop “multilateral” rules.
Juncker repeated his support for deeper economic integration and also urged the idea that the euro challenge the dollar as the world’s leading currency.
According to a Reuters report, he called it “absurd” that the EU pays for most of its energy in US dollars despite the fact that their main suppliers are Russia and the Gulf states.
This is Juncker’s final year as president and he appears to be pushing the EU to become more independent of its traditional ties, i.e the US-led NATO alliance.
He also urged more investment in Africa and a broad new free trade area, which forms part of the EU’s strategy to curb the flow of poor African migrants into the continent.