A little less than a year ago, in November 2019, Ursula von der Leyen spoke to the European Parliament, whose vote she was awaiting to be able to take the presidency of the Commission. She then presented her program for a greener, more digital and more “Geopolitics”. But the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which plunged the Old Continent into recession, put a stop to these projects. Wednesday September 16, Mme von der Leyen wanted to pick up the thread of his mandate during his speech on the “State of the Union” in this same forum, and relaunch his major projects, by placing them in this post-Covid world that she is struggling to draw.
The exercise was expected, especially as the President of the Commission had herself, in recent days, maintained curiosity. Not a Tweet without the hashtag #SOTEU (for “State Of The European Union”); even the masks of his collaborators have found themselves marked with this mysterious acronym for those who do not follow community affairs carefully.
A “European Magnitsky Act”
For an hour and twenty minutes, Ursula von der Leyen outlined her priorities. Foremost among which is health, an area in which Europe would like to have more power. The “green pact”, which should enable the Old Continent to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, also occupied a prominent place in his speech. For this, she said, greenhouse gas emissions will have to decrease by“At least 55%” by 2030 (compared to 1990), and not by 40% as predicted until then.
The president also insisted on the need for the European Union (EU) to accelerate its technological transition. Without what “Others will act before us and set the standards”, she pleaded, emphasizing industrial data, artificial intelligence or 5G. In particular, she promised to set up, for each EU citizen, a “European digital identity” who “Can be used anywhere in Europe to do everything, rent a bike or pay taxes”. And is committed to ensuring that 20% of the 750 billion euros of the recovery plan will be used to finance the digitization of the economy.
Finally, the former minister of Angela Merkel dwelled on the role of Europe on the world stage. About relationships “The most important, but the most difficult” with China, she notably raised the issue of the defense of human rights. And slipped that it is time for Europeans to pass a qualified vote (and not unanimously) when it comes to applying sanctions against a country that violates these rights. The president even announced a “European Magnitsky Act”, modeled on the « Magnitsky Act » United States, which would allow restrictive measures to be imposed on any Russian personality accused of violating human rights.
You have 42.37% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.