14 Sep, 2022

Liberals on the State of the European Union

Europe’s liberals welcome the European Commission's work over the past year when tackling COVID-19, supporting Ukraine or pushing for the green and digital transitions, but the rule of law and democracy cannot be taken for granted.  

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered her speech on the State of the European Union (SOTEU) focusing on the Union’s action to support Ukraine, tackle the energy crisis and the inflation, lead on the digital and green transitions while upholding democracy within and outside the Union, and become a true global leader.  

Europe’s liberals welcome the European Commission’s work over the last year, especially regarding the path towards COVID-19 recovery and the support to Ukraine, and the several proposals presented to strengthen democracy, our economy and our fight against climate change.  

We strongly support tying Ukraine with the European Union further, as proposed by President von der Leyen, by granting it seamless access to the Single Market. We applaud the idea of connecting Ukraine to the European free roaming area. 

We agree that we must continue investing in all types of energies and technologies such as hydrogen to decarbonise our system and we welcome the measures presented to reduce the hiking energy prices and continue our efforts to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we must ensure that democracy and rule of law are respected within the Union. The principle of conditionality needs to be applied without exceptions.  

We welcome the European Commission’s willingness to follow up on the Conference on the Future of Europe and establish a Convention to discuss reforms.  

Liberal leaders react to the State of the Union 

ALDE Party co-President Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP declared: 

"Putin will fail, Europe will prevail". Glad to hear from von der Leyen that the EU's solidarity with Ukraine would be "unshakeable." Today’s fight is simple, it is a battle of autocracy vs democracy. Of authoritarianism vs freedom, 

ALDE Party Vice President Dita Charanzová MEP warned: 

I welcome the proposal of von der Leyen to solve the energy crisis in Europe. A cap on the price of electricity and the use of extraordinary profits is OK, but not won. The devil will be in the detail. Capping the price of gas is still in play, but the reform of the market with emission allowances has unfortunately not been announced. Only the ministers will decide. 

ALDE Party Vice President Svenja Hahn MEP commented:  

“Von der Leyen wants seamless access to the EU’s Single Market for Ukraine. The common market has made the EU strong. Would be great opportunity for Ukraine to rebuild its economy. I am looking forward to hearing the specific proposal from the Commission.” 

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration Olha Stefanishyna stated:  

Welcome the decision of the European Commission to work with Ukraine to ensure seamless access to the Single Market,' as President von der Leyen announced. Ukraine will do its part. With a full-scale war on our soil, we continue the reforms which bring Ukraine closer to EU membership. 

Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas added: 

True, our sanctions work and "are here to stay." Why else would the Russian army take chips from dishwashers? Why else would Aeroflot planes be grounded? And I add: why else would the Kremlin use every terror tactic to get us to lift sanctions? So, we must go even further. 

Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager expressed: 

New European Hydrogen Bank, 2023 year of skills, Critical Raw Materials Act, delivery of NextGenEU… We invest in new energy, in our people. This is our leap into the future. Powerful #SOTEU2022 in unprecedented times. Now let’s work together to deliver this! 

Vice-President of the European Commission Věra Jourová stated: 

We must continue to fight for democracy in Europe every day. Von der Leyen will continue to insist on judicial independence and on protecting EU budget through the conditionality mechanism. We have to protect the Rule Of Law and will propose a stronger anti-corruption framework. 

European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton commented: 

RawMaterials have become the new oil & gas at the heart of our EU economy. President von der Leyen announced today in her SOTEU address the launch of a "Critical Raw Materials Act". My views on how to ensure a secure and sustainable access 

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič declared: 

I strongly welcome von der Leyen's SOTEU announcement to double our rescEU firefighting air fleet. No country can fight the increasingly devastating climate crisis alone, most dramatically visible during forest fires season affecting ever larger parts of Europe. 

The President of the European investment Bank Werner Hoyer expressed: 

I welcome von der Leyen’s proposals in her SOTEU speech to accelerate the Green Hydrogen economy. This is crucial for climate action and for EU energy security. The EIB Group will continue to work with the European Commission and our partners to support the green hydrogen sector. 

President for the Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament Stéphane Séjourné declared: 

A week ago, I asked President von der Leyen to tax energy companies. Today, she announced more than 140 billion to help families face the rise of prices and accelerate green investment. 

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