Business Brexit

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Juncker: EU should scrap some national vetos on tax

  • Annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament
  • Juncker: EU should move to a system of majority voting
  • EU's Juncker wants bigger global role for euro
  • Online firms face EU fine if extremist posts stay up over an hour
  • Solidarity with Ireland over tough Brexit talks will remain priority
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Independent.ie Business Desk and Shona Murray in Strasbourg

The European Union should scrap some national vetos on tax, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

Mr Juncker was delivering his annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg this morning.

He said that the EU should move to a system of majority voting.

And Juncker also called for the EU to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the US dollar.

"We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene," Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg as he presented his annual programme.

"It is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth €300bn a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2pc of our energy imports come from the United States," he said.

"It is absurd that European companies buy European planes in dollars instead of euro," he added.

Read more: Online firms face EU fine if extremist posts stay up over an hour

While Norway prices its substantial supplies to the EU in euros, an EU official said, other countries use dollars. Among the most important of these are Gulf states and Russia.

"The euro must become the face and the instrument of a new, more sovereign Europe," Juncker said, as he called for the bloc to become more of a global player and exert more influence internationally with a unified stance.

In his speech, the EU chief also proposed fining Google, Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms if they fail to remove extremist content within one hour.

Brussels gave internet firms three months in March to show they were acting faster to take down radical posts, but EU regulators say too little is being done without legislation forcing them to do so.

If authorities flag it, the European Commission wants content inciting or advocating extremist offences, promoting extremist groups, or showing how to commit such acts to be removed from the web within a hour.

"One hour is the decisive time window the greatest damage takes place," Jean-Claude Juncker said in his annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament.

Read more: Jean-Claude Juncker's state of the union speech to European Parliament - highlights

Meanwhile, Juncker said that solidarity with Ireland over tough Brexit talks will remain a priority for the EU.

He said the EU including the European Commission and all member states will “show loyalty and solidarity with Ireland” over the Irish border.

He said Europe will “find a solution to avoid hard border in Ireland and defend all elements of the Good Friday Agreement.”

But he pointed that it was Brexit, and "not the EU” making the border an issue.

Crucially, Mr Juncker – who is in his final year as president of the commission – issued a veiled rejection of the UK’s recent Brexit plan, also knowns as the ‘Chequers proposal’.

He said ‘someone who leaves’ the EU, “cannot be in the same privileged position” as it once was while a fully-fledged member.

“You are not in our Single Market and you are certainly not in parts of it” said Mr Juncker.

He was referring to the central part of Ms May’s proposal which calls for Britain remaining in the single market for goods alone.

But he said he Britain would remain a close ally of Europe, and urged both the government and EU negotiator Michel Barnier to negotiate a strong trade partnership.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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