Juncker Wants a U.S. of Europe. Does Anyone Else?

No more ‘multispeed,’ says Juncker.

Photographer: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is a man of compromise, often to the detriment of the vision he espouses. But in his State of the European Union speech on Wednesday, he delivered an uncompromising call for a tighter, federalist EU which goes against the intentions of the bloc's two most powerful national leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. They may resent being dared in such a way.

In March, Juncker published a white paper on the EU's future that was a typical, waffling Brussels document: It set out five scenarios for the bloc, ranging from inaction or the broad devolution of powers to the national capitals to "doing much more together." As he presented the paper, Juncker only made clear that he opposed the devolution scenario; he was pointedly neutral on the others.

Merkel, the ultimate realist, backs a "multispeed" Europe in which some core member states do more together and others hold back. Macron, in his first major foreign policy speech as president, also called for moving forward "with an avant-garde group of the willing" that others would eventually follow.