Ursula von der Leyen delivers the first State of the Union address during wartime
— The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered the State of the Union Address (SOTEU), in which she stood up to Putin and reached out to Ukraine
— Von der Leyen gave a comprehensive analysis of the current context, prioritising energy, the social market economy and foreign policy
Brussels, September 15th 2022. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered the State of the Union Address (SOTEU), in which she plants towards Putin and reaches out to Ukraine. The unity between the European Union and Ukraine materialised yesterday in the European Parliament in the presence of Olena Zelenska, the Ukrainian First Lady.
The Commission President gave a comprehensive analysis of the current context, prioritising energy, social market economy and foreign policy. SOTEU 2022 was a speech marked by epics and a strong call for unity in the face of war, structured by real proposals and largely supported by the MEPs present.
Von diere Leyen said: “Democratic institutions must win the trust of citizens again and again. We must rise to the new challenges that history always throws at us, just as Europeans did when millions of Ukrainians knocked on their doors. This is Europe at its best: a Union of determination and solidarity.
The President of the Commission gave an exhaustive analysis of the current context, prioritising energy, the social market economy and foreign policy. SOTEU 2022 was a speech marked by epics and a strong call for unity in the face of war, structured by real proposals and largely supported by the present MEPs.
In terms of aid to Ukraine, the EU will donate 100 million euros for the reconstruction of schools. Furthermore, it will integrate the Ukrainian into the Single Market through measures such as the suspension of import duties on Ukrainian exports. Finally, von diere Leyen mentioned the goal of including Ukraine in the European free roaming space.
Energy and Climate
Energy was the central theme of the speech. On electricity, the Commission President called on European citizens to reduce energy consumption during peak hours.
She also announced that the EU will limit the income of companies that produce electricity at low cost. This measure is estimated to yield a profit of around 140 billion euros. Similarly, the electricity market will undergo a thorough and comprehensive reform. In order to reduce the price, measures will be taken to reduce daily volatility, low-cost renewables will be included in the merit order system and gas will be unbundled from electricity.
Due to Russia’s use of gas as a geopolitical weapon, President von der Leyen announced the need to align with reliable suppliers such as the United States or Norway.
Within green energy sources, the creation of the European Hydrogen Bank, financed with 3 billion from the Innovation Fund, to build a functional hydrogen market, is worth mentioning. Finally, the EU will increase its fire prevention and firefighting fleet and promote a pro-nature agreement at the next UN Conference on Biodiversity.
She also announced that the EU will cap the revenues of companies producing low-cost electricity. This measure is estimated to yield a profit of around 140 billion euros. Similarly, the electricity market will undergo a thorough and comprehensive reform. In order to reduce the price, measures will be taken to reduce daily volatility, low-cost renewables will be included in the merit order system and gas will be unbundled from electricity.
Economy and Industry
The Commission President highlighted progress on taxation. Firstly, new measures on economic governance will be announced in October 2022 to allow Member States to reduce their debt more flexibly and responsibly. On the other hand, SMEs will experience improved conditions thanks to the BEFIT tax package and the revision of the Late Payment Directive.
Ursula von der Leyen proposed that 2023 should be the European Year of Skills and especially of Lifelong Learning. In this way, a synergy will be generated between the skills of workers and the needs of companies.
Finally, she announced the creation of the European Law on Raw Materials to avoid dependence on China. In this line, he also mentioned the new European sovereignty fund.
Given the current confrontation between democracies and autocracies, the EU must become a global actor with real influence. To this end, it must start by promoting the annexation of the Western Balkans, Ukraine and Moldova. This enlargement will take place on the basis of the new European community approach that the European Commission will present to the Council.
On international investment and the promotion of democratic values, the EU will continue to implement projects through the Global Gateway and create a Pact for the Defence of Democracy.
Rule of Law and Migration
Respect for the rule of law will remain a priority for the Commission President. In this area, the fight against corruption will be reinforced through a new legislative framework and efforts will be made to include human rights within the sanctions regime.
In relation to human rights, migration remains a priority but also a sensitive debate. Ursula von der Leyen stressed the need for political will on the part of the Member States to implement the New Migration Pact and to make it operational.
Future of Europe
The President of the European Commission informed that citizen participation in the European Union will remain active through the citizens’ panels that were implemented during the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE). This tool will allow the Commission to learn about the needs of society and to implement its proposals, such as the new initiative on mental health.
Every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers the State of the Union address to the European Parliament. In it, she takes stock of the achievements of the previous year and presents the priorities for the coming year. In her speech, the President also sets out how the Commission will tackle the European Union’s most pressing challenges and puts forward ideas for the future of the EU.
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