BRUSSELS, Sept 12 (KUNA) -- European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned Wednesday of the impending disastrous consequences of the situation in Idlib, Syria, and said Europe cannot remain silent about this.
"In Idlib the course of events should be of great immediate concern to us all. We cannot remain silent in the face of an impending humanitarian disaster," he said in his 2018 State of the Union Address, before the Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
"The Syrian conflict shows us how the international order which Europeans have taken advantage of since World War II has increasingly being called into question," he warned.
Presenting his priorities for the year ahead and outlining his vision for how the European Union he called for a 'More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union."
"The geopolitical situation makes this Europe's hour: the time for European sovereignty has come. It is time Europe took its destiny into its own hands," said Juncker.
Juncker urged for simplification of the decision-making processes in the EU and for unanimity.
"It is this compulsive need for unanimity that is keeping us from being able to act credibly on the global stage.
The European Union could not reach a unified position on the problems in the South China Sea; we could not reach a unified position on human rights in the People's Republic of China; we could not reach a unified position on Jerusalem," he said.
His speech comes ahead of the 2019 European elections and in the midst of the ongoing debate about the future of the European Union after Brexit. He urged Europeans to make their political choices next May in fair, secure and transparent European elections.
"In our online world, the risk of interference and manipulation has never been so high.
It is time to bring our election rules up to speed with the digital age to protect European democracy," he said.
On Brexit he said "The EU respects but regrets the UK decision and asks the British government to understand that outside the union it cannot enjoy the same privileges as within.
Europe will always show solidarity with Ireland over the border issue with the UK. The UK will always be a close partner in political, economic and security terms."
Juncker called for a new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs saying "what happens in Africa matters for Europe, and what happens in Europe matters for Africa. Our partnership is an investment in our shared future." (end)