European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will argue the euro should become the global currency for trade instead of the U.S. dollar in his State of the Union speech Wednesday morning.
Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, he will make a pitch for the EU to “punch above its weight, not below,” according to an EU diplomat briefed on the speech. Juncker’s message will be that with the Trump administration withdrawing the U.S. from the world, there is an opportunity for Europe to fill the gap. “There’s no logic at all in paying energy imports in dollar not euro,” an EU diplomat said.
Borrowing a phrase from French President Emmanuel Macron, Juncker’s motto for the speech will be “a Europe that protects.” Under that rubric, the Commission president will outline a strengthened structure and bolder mandate for the EU’s Coast and Border Guard, as POLITICO previously reported. He’s expected to propose the EU agency — which will soon have 10,000 operational staff — get its hands dirty by assisting EU countries to return asylum seekers whose applications for refuge are denied. (In practice, that will mainly cover returns of those who arrive by boat and are in “closed centers,” which haven’t yet been established.)
In a move that may be seen in some countries as an attempted power grab by Brussels, Juncker will propose giving the EU a “stronger mandate on returns,” which will include the power to seek the travel documents from the home countries of those asylum seekers who are to be returned, and the power to complete the paperwork for return decisions for member countries. An EU diplomat briefing reporters on Juncker’s speech said it is meant to “help break the deadlock” on migration in response to criticism that the EU doesn’t secure its borders.