This week was the first plenary session for the European Parliament of the 2018-2019 political year. 8 years ago, José-Manuel Barroso, then President of the European Commission, installed what was to become a tradition: the annual State of the European Union address (SOTEU). The speech, following the same idea as that of the State of the Union address in the United States, is meant to make the European Union more transparent. Transparency is one of our key principles and for that reason, we support the idea of the SOTEU - although its speaker should be elected democratically. However, the content is highly questionable.
This year in particular was representative of the European Union's "business as usual" attitude.
Mr. Juncker insisted upon the fact that Europe was built on the rule of law and democracy.
It seems strange to us that those who so adamantly defend the rule of law are also those who for so long have ignored the blatant attacks on basic freedoms and rights happening inside the European Union. Amidst a plethora of examples, the most prominent one at the current moment is the situation in Hungary. Disinformation, obliteration of freedom of expression, the backtracking of equal rights acquired decades and even centuries ago, democracy overturned, interference in the justice system and academia ... the situation in Hungary has been what it is for years - only now it seems, it is time to denounce it. Nevertheless, action needed to be taken. Now has come a time when even Viktor Orbán's own European party supports a sanction against the Hungarian government. "Hungary no longer reflects the European values it promised to uphold when joining the EU" was to be heard from MEPs from his European political grouping. Amongst those that abstained in the vote - MEPs from Spanish Partido Popular.
Naturally, a party that, whilst in government, used similar techniques to undermine a nation of over 9 million people - Catalonia - as well as all the other nations that are fighting to break free from their artificial borders, will hardly vote in favour of such a move. For that, at least, one could say that they are consistent.
Overall, however, it didn't seem to strike many MEPs as odd that whilst Mr. Orban was a reason for sanctioning, the fact that other elected representatives of a country, some of them former MEPs sitting in that very room some years prior, were currently in prison for exercising the mandate they were elected for. The rule of law, it seems, is selective.
Again, we question who fits under these standards and who is exempt from the privileged solidarity treatment? Where does "Europe" stand on the oppression of the Kurds, the Macedonians, the Saharawi?
Here, Mr. Juncker makes one very clear and fundamental mistake. It was not a "British" decision to leave. In Scotland, the majority very clearly decided to stay - it is therefore absolutely and unequivocally injust to force the country to leave "because Britain decided to". In such a situation, the wish to stay in the single market or to keep European citizenship is not logical, but legitimate. Denying this fact is tantamount to discarding any form of sovereignty - something Mr. Juncker was insistent about in his address.
So, let's reformulate the sentence to what it really means : "We consider that England decides over all other nations in its vicinity, and therefore, we want to sanction those nations for that centralist decision"
A Union, indeed.
... is part of his conclusion. On that, we agree. The EU is collectively responsible for the injustices that happen within it. We are Europe, and Europe needs us to be united. If we truly want a European Union, States can no longer exerce their dominance over nations. Oppression must be erased. Mutual respect, understanding, and equality for ALL is what the peoples of Europe need. It's high time.