15 September 2021
On Wednesday 15 September, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, delivered her second State of the European Union address to the European Parliament.
The European Greens welcome a hopeful speech in which the European Commission President made a series of relevant proposals. However, if Ursula von der Leyen wants to be serious about making 2022 the European Year of Youth and address the number one issue future generations are concerned with, she must ramp up her climate ambitions and cannot pretend the problem will be solved through current measures.
Thomas Waitz, co-chair of the European Green Party, comments:
“Ursula von der Leyen said, « When we act together, we can act fast. » The bare five minutes dedicated to climate in an hour-long speech are not on par with the scope and emergency of the most pressing challenge of our generation.
From the Fit-for-55 package to biodiversity spending, the European Commission must continue strengthening its proposal if we want to fulfill our commitments as a continent and truly claim our climate leadership. Our legal obligations under the European Climate Law will not resist the laws of physics. The recent IPCC report which came after a series of dramatic extreme weather events across Europe this summer has shown that Europe has not yet fully grasped the level of the crisis nor acted accordingly.
We are particularly worried that the contradiction of the Common Agricultural Policy hasn’t been resolved nor addressed. The current CAP proposal, the biggest share of the EU budget, remains in complete contradiction with our climate and biodiversity goals.
On the global stage, no credible proposals can be made as long as the European Union does not have a coherent and functioning foreign policy. Defense policy proposals such as scrapping VAT for EU-produced arms are downright ridiculous.
Regarding the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, while Ursula von der Leyen rightly pointed out the responsibility of the member states, she cannot shy away from the huge responsibility the European Union holds in welcoming refugees threatened by the Taliban’s regime through a humane migration policy. We must use our capacities to evacuate Afghan citizens who have been actively fighting for human rights and fundamental rights and whose lives are now directly at risk.”
Mar Garcia, Secretary General of the European Green Party, adds:
“We heard a hopeful speech this morning, packed with proposals. While we can rejoice about some of them, a sense of a clear lack of strategic direction is particularly worrying.
From supporting vaccine production capacity and sending vaccines to countries the most in need, to bold investments in the Western Balkans to support their European future; or ramping up the fight against tax evasion: we are ready to work constructively to ensure these proposals are effectively benefitting all citizens.
Among these proposals, we particularly welcome the ambition to ban products made through forced labour and an upcoming law on gender-based violence. The Greens have long been calling for these policies. The road is still long to their implementation, and we will ensure they are developed to the highest standards.
But this morning, the lack of ambition on climate, economic governance and the social pillar also appeared clearly.
The future of the EU lies in a balancing act between solidarity, stability, and sovereignty. Ursula von der Leyen didn’t offer a vision on how to further our common political project and overcome internal divisions. This balance and this vision are crucial if we hope to foster a green recovery while guaranteeing a just transition for all.”
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