This year's speech comes ahead of the 2019 European elections and in the context of the ongoing debate about the future of the European Union at 27. In last year's speech, President Juncker outlined his vision for how the European Union could evolve by 2025 and presented a Roadmap for a 'More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union'. The speech was accompanied by concrete initiatives on trade, investment screening, cybersecurity, industry and data. Building on this, national leaders met in Tallinn, Estonia, and agreed on a Leaders' Agenda – a list of the most pressing issues and challenges for which solutions should be found, ahead of the European Parliament elections in May 2019. On 9 May 2019, at a summit in Sibiu, Romania, national leaders are expected to mark the culmination of this process with a renewed commitment to an EU that delivers on the issues that really matter to people.
This year's speech will again be accompanied by new proposals, putting words immediately into action. The President will set out proposals that can deliver positive results for citizens by the time of the Sibiu Summit, and pave the way for a wide-ranging debate in the run-up to the European elections.
The State of the Union Address marks the start of the dialogue with the European Parliament and the Council to prepare the Commission's annual Work Programme. Anchored in the Treaty of Lisbon, the State of the Union Address is set out in the 2010 Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission, which requires the President and the First Vice-President to send a Letter of Intent to the President of the European Parliament and the Presidency of the Council detailing the actions the European Commission intends to take by means of legislation and other initiatives. The State of the Union Address is followed by a plenary debate with Members of the European Parliament. The first State of the Union Address was delivered in 2010 after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.
President Juncker's preparations for the State of the Union Address start in July. Input is gathered from across the Commission – the Commissioners, Cabinets, Directors General, and EU Ambassadors. President Juncker then holds a two day seminar with the College of Commissioners at the end of August to discuss the challenges and priorities for the year ahead. In drafting the speech, President Juncker also extensively consults outside the institution, talking to leaders across Europe and beyond, the Conference of Presidents and political groups in the European Parliament as well as Ambassadors to the EU and Permanent Representatives and leading European think tanks.
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