Commission President Ursula von der Leyen talks about her main goals: a green Europe, digitalisation and immigration policy solutions.
President of the Commission, who took office last December Ursula von der Leyen will give his first major speech on the European Union today, Wednesday.
The State of the European Union speech will begin at 10.15 Finnish time in the European Parliament in Brussels. The speech will be followed by a parliamentary debate.
You can follow the speech and the ensuing conversation live from the video above.
Von der Leyen has led Europe in a difficult situation. He wanted a quick start by telling about an ambitious hundred-day program, but the coronavirus pandemic eventually took up a significant portion of the day’s work hours.
There will be at least three themes in the speech.
1. Treatment of a coronavirus pandemic
The economic difficulties caused by the pandemic have been described as the most serious since the Second World War, and Finland, for example, is forecast to have the slowest economic development in the euro area next year. The EU has coordinated aid, but has been slow to respond first. Italy had to appeal to the Union several times. The EU is now negotiating together on coronavirus vaccines, among other things, and member states have agreed on funding for hundreds of billions in recovery.
Von der Leyen has repeatedly called for solidarity between Member States. The message has been that the coronavirus was not a condition created by any single country, but that each member state was in distress without request and surprise. The long-standing grief has been each Member State’s own border criteria, which the Commission has tried in vain to coordinate.
Von der Leyen will have highlighted the message he has already mentioned several times in his speech: no one will be left behind. The presidency is also likely to repeat the latest aid figures, both inside and outside the EU.
2. A new, greener Europe
The Green New Deal was the first major work of the von der Leyen Commission. The goal is for Europe to become the world’s first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. The program has a broad impact on every aspect of life, from consumption to movement. “The time for the old growth model based on fossils and pollution is over,” von der Leyen has described.
In his speech, Von der Leyen is expected to talk about a new EU emission limit for 2030. The current emission limit, 40% of 1990 levels, is too low, according to many member states. According to preliminary data, von der Leyen proposes a limit of at least 55%. New information is also expected on the extension of emissions trading to transport and housing.
3. Settlement of immigration policy disputes
EU countries have been trying to reform their asylum policies since a large number of people seeking security and new livelihoods sought Europe in 2015. The large number of newcomers showed the weaknesses of EU asylum policy. Over the years, there have been several attempts to completely overhaul the common asylum policy, but the eastern Member States, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria in particular, have resisted.
Von der Leyen has promised to bring the reforms to the finish line or at least bring a “new, fresh start” to the debate. The plan is expected next week. The first guidelines are expected in Wednesday’s speech. Reforms are needed in the Dublin Regulation, for example. According to Dublin practice, an asylum seeker is sent back to the country where he or she was first registered, such as Greece or Italy. However, this places an unreasonable burden on the first recipient countries.
According to preliminary data, Mr von der Leyen’s second line concerns the Schengen area of free movement, where temporary border controls have become almost permanent.
Also read: This has been Ursula von der Leyen’s first year in European leadership