European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has given her first State of the Union address. The annual speech in the European Parliament is an opportunity for the Commission President to take stock and discuss her priorities over the coming months.
So, what is the current state of the EU? The coronavirus pandemic was the defining theme of President von der Leyen’s speech: the Commission is planning a stronger EU health union that is better prepared for cross-border crises, as well as international cooperation in the development of a vaccine.
However, the pandemic is not the only challenge facing the EU. Climate change is also an urgent concern, and the Commission President called for more ambitious climate targets in her speech. She argued for a reduction in emissions of at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. President von der Leyen said she is aware that this will go “too far for some and not far enough for others”. The Environment Committee of the European Parliament recently voted in favour of an even more ambitious EU climate target of a 60 percent reduction of emissions, while some Member States want to put the brakes on climate protection in light of the pandemic.
Other topics raised included digitalisation, foreign policy, and the rule of law in the EU. However, in order to turn words into actions, the Member States and the European Parliament must also reach agreement. Will President von der Leyen be able to implement her agenda?
What is the state of the European Union? Will it meet the challenges of responding to the pandemic, transitioning to a green economy, boosting digitalisation, as well as promoting a coherent foreign policy internationally and rule of law internally? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!