16 Sep, 2020

Von der Leyen’s first SOTEU focuses on unity in crisis

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.

Access the full speech by President von der Leyen here

Watch the State of the European Union address in full here or below


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