Friday, September 29, 2023

Von der Leyen became an electorate and focused more on Europe than on Ukraine

A motto: “Answer the call of History.” One priority: promote the legacy of these four years. One goal: the flash of the Popular and Social Democrats 300 days before the European elections. A hint: investigate subsidies for electric cars in China. A guest: the Colombian writer Héctor Abad Faciolince.

In her last State of the Union speech in the European Parliament – ​​at least in the current legislature -, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, sought to put in black and white the achievements of one of the most complex . ruled the history of the European project, marked by the worst pandemic in a century and the return of war in Europe.

Without big phrases, announcements or pomposities, the German gave a speech for an hour that did not focus much on China or Ukraine, but with many references to the green and digital transition. A speech intended more for internal consumption than external. More focused on appreciating the trajectory and the road traveled. In other words, more electoral. Von der Leyen emphasized the need to protect citizens, the rural world or community companies and identified the lack of labor, inflation and business slowdown as the three main challenges.

In 2022, the theme of his speech will be the Union that remains strong and united. It has the nerve center of the war in Ukraine, a word he repeated 34 times from the first minute. The one for 2023 is Answering the call of History. In this, the block referring to Ukraine was moved to the end of his speech, behind others such as Artificial Intelligence.

What started in 2019 as a geopolitical Commission ended up being a crisis management Commission promoting a European Union with more teeth on the global board. Pacifist Europe made a Copernican turn by providing weapons to a nation at war for the first time. It also creates a new line against an increasingly assertive China.

The EU’s joint response to the war in Ukraine is one of the milestones of this legislature, which has resulted in 11 sanctions packages and more than 70 billion euros in financial, humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. Some successes have appeared, such as the joint purchase of vaccines or the European Recovery Plan.

The EU has major challenges ahead: completing the Migration Pact or economic governance and implementing the EU’s major enlargement – ​​which will add eight new members in the coming decades. In this last line, Von der Leyen could not hold his hands. Charles Michel, president of the European Council, recently pointed to 2030 as the date for accepting new members such as Ukraine or the Western Balkans. Von der Leyen does not set calendars or give names and numbers to visitors and stresses that it is a technical, complex and merit-based process. Looking in the mirror at Joe Biden’s motto, he twice pointed to “Let’s get the job done.”

Flashing on both sides of the board

Von der Leyen did not reach the speech at his best moment in terms of support. During his mandate he seduced the capitals more than the officials in Brussels. With Emmanuel Macron or Pedro Sánchez, who are not members of his political family, he acted with ease and strength. But in the community capitol he received a lot of criticism because of his monopoly on issues and his iron hand in managing his leadership.

In the European Parliament, the ranks of his political group, the European People’s Party, rebelled against key elements of the Green Deal, the flagship of his program when he took office in 2019. The group led by Manfred Weber, Also German, presented a crusade to stop the Nature Restoration Law. And the Maltese Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament, also strengthened his speech on the green agenda. It’s already a race to the top jobs. Less than 300 days before the European elections, any move is aimed at preparing the way to the 13th floor of Berlaymont, where the Presidency of the European Commission is established, the most sought-after position.

To win back this sympathy from the center-right, Von der Leyen undertook a tightrope walk exercise that sought to balance the defense of environmental policies with popular concerns about the rural world. “Four years ago, the Green Deal was our answer to history,” he said. “Agriculture and environmental conservation can go hand in hand. Both things are important,” he assured, responding to popular concerns with direct references to the protection of farmers and farmers in this transition. “The PP is the party of the rural world,” Weber reminded him in the following debate.

Climate and immigration at the center of the division

Natural disasters inside and outside Europe are becoming more frequent and more severe and have left the continent with the hottest summer in its history. The Social Democrats, Greens and Left have long warned that they will not accept concessions or backward steps in the fight against the climate crisis. “Stopping the effects of climate change is a legal and moral obligation,” said Iratxe García Pérez, head of the Social Democrats, who criticized Von der Leyen for missing references in his speech on housing, the minimum living wage, an anti-poverty strategy or employment equality.

“As expected, those who never accepted the Green Deal are now asking for a stop, a moratorium. For them I say this: we are not above nature. Humanity is part of nature,” agreed Phillipe Lamberts, co-leader of the Greens , who asked Von der Leyen to be more heavy-handed in the drifts in Hungary and Poland and criticized him for the policies of Fortress Europe that made “the Mediterranean a grave .” For its part, the extreme right attacked immigration and reiterated its denialist view of green policies. Meanwhile Martin Schirdewan, leader of the United Left, shamed the Germans for using “noble words” but little result. “In every speech he sells Europeans gold and silver,” he said, recalling that there are currently 95 million Europeans threatened by poverty.

Similarly, Von der Leyen led a fierce defense of Tunisia’s migration deal, which has showered the country with an authoritarian influx of millions to stop migrants. And he announced that there was more.

Europe abandons demands from Ursula von der Leyen for a stronger hand in Hungary and Poland

The tenant of Berlaymont expressed a harsh tone on immigration management. “We are strengthening our borders. But we need stronger laws, persecution of mafias and more powers for agencies like Frontex. We need to show that Europe can manage migration with efficiency and compassion,” he said a few days after Weber visited Tunisia, a country he asked to stop “illegal immigration.” The European Council for Refugees and Exiles says that there is “no mercy” in the agreements with Libya or Tunisia, in the externalization of third countries and detentions and in the failure to create safe routes of arrival.

Part of the speech on the social pillar and equality was directed at the ranks led by the Spaniard García Pérez. During this mandate, the EU ratified the Istanbul Convention, but did not complete the first Gender Violence Directive. Von der Leyen went further on Wednesday and called for a European No means No law, an inspiration from the Spanish. “There is no real equality in violence,” he said. However, in his speech he focused on protecting the most vulnerable sections of society.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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