What is the State of the European Union Address?

Ursula von der Leyen will deliver her State of the European Union speech this Wednesday morning before the plenary session of the European Parliament.

But what is the history of this speech?

The State of the Union or the State of the European Union (SOTEU), is an annual speech that serves the President of the European Commission to present the main political priorities, objectives and initiatives of the next legislative year.

For this reason, it is held in mid-September, after the MEPs return from their summer holidays. In the long speech, which lasts between 40 minutes and an hour, the head of the Commission reflects on the greatest achievements and – within the careful limits of institutional self-criticism – the mistakes made in the last 12 months.

The text is usually sprinkled with doses of political philosophy: the presidents openly reflect on the reason for being of the European Union and its unwritten future, while calling on their audience to work together for the sake of collective prosperity.

This year’s SOTEU is poised to make history: Ursula von der Leyen will become the first Commission President to deliver the speech with a full-scale war in Europe.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the worsening energy crisis are expected to be high on von der Leyen’s agenda, giving the special occasion a markedly dark cast.

Watch the video above to discover the history of the State of the European Union Address.


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