Values and Crises of the European Union: Reflecting on the Narratives of Values and Crises in the State of the Union Addresses 2010 - 2020

Research Paper by Sofia af Hällström

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Exploring the presence of crises and values narratives in an analysis of the annual SOTEU Addresses 2010-2020.

#EUdiscourse #SOTEU #EUvalues #EUincrisis


Abstract

The Eurozone crisis, the migration crisis and now the COVID-19 crisis. The events of this decade have increasingly been referred to as crises – of political, social and economic nature. Simultaneously, the European Union defines itself as an embodiment of values – respect for human rights, human dignity, freedom, equality and democracy. Both values and crises are central concepts to the EUs identity formation, conceptualisation, and political agency and both are concepts that are embedded in significant ambiguity. This paper reflects on the nature of crisis and values narratives in the annual State of the European Union (SOTEU) Addresses between 2010 and 2020. The SOTEU Addresses are given by the President of the European Commission to the European Parliament, representing a critical moment for high-level agenda setting. All speeches use a crisis-based discourse to describe, persuade and present action and initiatives, with references to crises being used in almost all of the speeches opening lines. Values are referred to cross-cuttingly throughout all speeches, with democracy, rule of law and freedom featuring the most.


About the author

Sofia af Hällström is a research professional from Finland with expertise in EU external policy, development cooperation and social policy. She holds an MSc in Public Policy and Human Development from Maastricht University and the United Nations University MERIT as well as an MA in Sociology and Business Management from the University of Glasgow. With global experience in the field of development and social policy, her interests span multilateral cooperation and the EU as well as the wider field of rights-based development, social inclusion and poverty reduction.