Members' Research Service By / September 13, 2022

State of the Union address, European Parliament, 2022

Presidential State of the Union addresses are a feature in several federal states, in particular in the United States, where the president gives a speech in the Capitol before a joint session of Congress, thus fulfilling the constitutional obligation to ‘from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union’ (Article II(3) of the US Constitution).

© European Union 2020; Source: EP – Daina Le Lardic

Written by Rafał Mańko.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s third State of the Union address, scheduled for 14 September 2022, will be delivered at a time when the European Union and its Member States are facing unprecedented geopolitical and economic challenges. Rising energy prices and accelerating climate change are testing the EU’s resilience. On a more positive note, the recovery and resilience plans of most Member States have been approved, and the Next Generation EU spending programme will provide financing for the EU’s green transformation. Nevertheless, the enforcement of EU values (Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union), and in particular the rule of law, remains a challenge; the application of the Conditionality Regulation could provide the tools to address some of the related issues. Other points worth noting are that months after the Conference on the Future of Europe ended, the European Commission’s follow-up to its outcome is still underway, and that the coronavirus pandemic, although no longer the main topic of concern, is continuing to have a profound effect on lives and societies.

The EU State of the Union address, delivered to the European Parliament by the president of the European Commission, dates back to 2010. The address takes stock of the achievements of the past year and presents priorities for the year ahead. It is an important tool when it comes to the Commission’s ex-ante accountability vis-à-vis Parliament and is also aimed at rendering the definition of priorities at EU level more transparent and at communicating them to the public. The event chimes with similar practices in national democracies. The United States, for instance, has a long-standing tradition of presidential State of the Union addresses. In contrast to the US constitution, the EU Treaties do not prescribe a State of the Union address; the EU version was established by the 2010 Framework Agreement on relations between Parliament and the Commission.

This briefing further updates an earlier one from September 2016, originally written by Eva-Maria Poptcheva.

Read the complete briefing on ‘State of the Union address, European Parliament, 2022‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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