On 16 September, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered her first-ever annual State of the European Union (SOTEU) address in which she highlighted achievements of her Commission, took stock of the actions during the global pandemic as well as the current state of the world, and outlined the next steps in the road to recovery.
“People want to move out of this corona world, out of this fragility, out of uncertainty. They are ready for change and they are ready to move on. This is the moment for Europe to lead the way from this fragility towards a new vitality,” President von der Leyen said in her address, while mentioning the need for a stronger European Health Union and crisis preparedness, among others.
Reacting to von der Leyen’s address, ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen commented:
“I fully support Ursula von der Leyen’s priorities included in her State of the Union address. I agree with a stronger coordinating role for the EU in health matters, especially when it comes to COVID-19. We need a bold position towards China and Russia as strategic rivals and there should be no compromises with the UK and Turkey when treaties and international law is breached. However, the EU institutions as well as the Member States should now put their money where their mouth is.”
Reacting to the speech from Berlin, ALDE Party Vice President Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said: "Ursula von der Leyen did not give a speech on the state of the European Union but on how to improve the state of the European Union. And that was exactly right. There are many problems in the European Union. Most of them originate in the member states but are blamed on the Europe as a whole [...] If there is one lesson from Corona, then it is that Europe needs a stronger role."
ALDE Party Vice President Luis Garicano commented: "Europe is not a cash machine but an opportunity to fight for the well-being of its citizens. We will do what is necessary to ensure that the money is well spent and it is used to benefit families in education, health & fighting climate change."
ALDE Party Vice President Dita Charanzová said:"We need a strong EU that help citizens and keep Europeans and EU businesses safe. The EU economy is a ship in a hurricane and we need a Captain to navigate us safely to the shore. I hope you will be that Captain, President von der Leyen."
President of the Renew Europe Group Dacian Cioloș called for a Europe that both protects and prospers:
“Europe must be a beacon of stability for our citizens, it must provide solutions to their uncertainties and fears. We have done this in recent months but the crisis is not yet over. Europeans are tired from months of hardship. More than ever, we must mobilise to build a strong, reactive Europe where it is needed.”
Liberal Commissioners also reacted to von der Leyen’s address. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager noted how the COVID-19 pandemic showed how the interdependence of the global community and urged for cooperation in building a green, digital and resilient Europe. Vice-President Věra Jourová and Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders highlighted the importance of rule of law in their reactions. Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson reiterated von der Leyen’s call to reduce emissions to at least 55% by 2030, while Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič highlighted the need to establish EU-wide resilience goals. Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton highlighted that 20% of the EU Recovery Plan will be invested in strengthening the bloc’s digital sovereignty.
This article will be periodically updated with more reactions.
Watch the State of the European Union address in full here or below
🇪🇺I fully support @vonderleyen priorities at #SOTU— Hans van Baalen (@hansvanbaalen) September 16, 2020
▶️😷A stronger EU coordinating role in health matters #COVID19
▶️Bold position towards China and Russia as strategic rivals
▶️No compromises with the UK and Turkey when breaching treaties and international law (1/2)
🇪🇺 "Europe is not a cash machine but an opportunity to fight for the well-being of its citizens. We will do what is necessary to ensure that the money is well spent and it is used to benefit families in education, health & fighting climate change", says @lugaricano at #SOTEU pic.twitter.com/3RjvxO1C0P— Renew Europe (@RenewEurope) September 16, 2020
🇪🇺 "We need a strong EU that help citizens and keep Europeans and EU businesses safe. The EU economy is a ship in a hurricane and we need a Captain to navigate us safely to the shore. I hope you will be that Captain, Mme @vonderleyen", says @charanzova at #SOTEU pic.twitter.com/X99DEnMFRc— Renew Europe (@RenewEurope) September 16, 2020
The #CoronaCrisis showed how interdependent we are. Showed how we need each other. Now it is time to build for #NextGenerationEU - green, digital, resilient: Improving lives, livelihoods and community! #SOTEU pic.twitter.com/nhlcoRvcAz— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) September 16, 2020
1⃣/2⃣@vonderleyen at #SOTEU:#RuleofLaw helps us to protect people from the rule of the powerful. We'll ensure that money from our budget & #NextGenerationEU is protected against fraud, corruption and conflict of interest. This is non-negotiable. European values are not for sale. pic.twitter.com/gLBg35Ozsd— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) September 16, 2020
President @vonderleyen is right! We need to push for change & therefore, we are proposing to increase the 2030 target for emission reduction to at least 55%!— Kadri Simson (@KadriSimson) September 16, 2020
The #energysector has a massive role to play in this. #SOTEU #EUGreenDeal🇪🇺🌿 https://t.co/USV61EyW0P
We must continue to handle this pandemic with extreme care, responsibility and unity. We must now draw the lessons from the health crisis. We need to strengthen our crisis preparedness and management of cross-border health threats. @vonderleyen#SOTEU pic.twitter.com/Vk2ZPkvfxA— Janez Lenarčič (@JanezLenarcic) September 16, 2020
The next 10 years will be Europe’s Digital Decade 🕯💡— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) September 16, 2020
We will invest 20% of 🇪🇺 recovery plan to strengthen our digital sovereignty:
↗️ European cloud
↗️ Connectivity for all
↗️ Quantum & supercomputing#SOTEU @vonderleyen #DigitalDecade pic.twitter.com/AiCMMornlA