Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, has given today her first ever ‘State of the Union Address’ at the European Parliament in Brussels. This annual event is significant to demonstrate the European Commission’s accountability towards the EU’s democratically elected representatives, the Members of the European Parliament and to be able to debate on the vision and roadmap that the European Commission is proposing.
In her speech, she has given an overview on what the Commission has been doing since being in office and what plans they have for the future.
Topics included the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath/recovery with the question on where the EU’s competence is in health issues, migration, climate change, the rule of law, minimum wage, digitization + tax and foreign policy.
Regarding, agriculture, farming or food production she did not mention them explicitly, just in the context of precision farming or that farmers had received funding as a support too. This lack of the topic has been criticized by MEPs who sit in the AGRI Committee and the President of Renew Europe (D Ciolos).
She has mentioned that “our current levels of consumption of raw materials, energy, water, food and land use are not sustainable” – thus the European Green Deal shall be the blueprint to make the essential changes and transformation. In addition to the green transition, von der Leyen named the development of the digital economy as another very important area.
For that, she has talked about how the NextGenerationEU fund shall be distributed with earmarking 20% on digital, 37% will be spent directly on our European Green Deal objectives and they will set a target of 30% of NextGenerationEU’s 750 billion euro to be raised through green bonds. She has underlined that the NextGenerationEU should invest in “lighthouse European projects with the biggest impact”, which she mentioned to be: hydrogen, renovation and 1 million electric charging points.
On the other hand, she has explicitly stated that the European Commission is proposing to increase the 2030 target for emission reduction to at least 55%. She has underlined that the 2030 target is ‘ambitious, achievable, and beneficial’ for Europe. For this she has expressed that by next summer, they will revise all of the climate and energy legislation to make it “fit for 55”. They will enhance emission trading, boost renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, reform energy taxation.
More details will be outlined tomorrow on Thursday, when Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal with Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson will “detail how we will get there”.
She has introduced the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism as well, which shall “motivate foreign producers and EU importers to reduce their carbon emissions, while ensuring that we level the playing field in a WTO-compatible way.”
However, Michael Roth, who was representing the Council, has stated that von der Leyen must not have expected that the Council will support of these proposals unreservedly. MEPs then debated intensively the different topics and the President of the European Commission to be open for further debates.
Find the Commission’s document attached to this email and the link to the full speech is available at: