against the backdrop of the crisis, a first speech expected on the state of the EU

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The President of the European Commission, the German Ursula von der Leyen, will try Wednesday to breathe new life into a European Union weakened by the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, during her first speech on the state of the Union.

This will be his first and that in a context of multiple crises. The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will deliver her first State of the Union speech on Wednesday September 16. The German will thus try to breathe new life into the European Union, weakened by the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic and with negotiations around Brexit at a standstill.

Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman at the head of the Commission, will in turn submit to this exercise, imposed on all the presidents of the Brussels executive and which makes it possible to better define their personality.

She will speak at 9.15 am (7.15 am GMT) to MEPs meeting in plenary session in Brussels and will explain to them her vision for the future of Europe and her action plan.

The EU facing the Covid-19 pandemic

The pandemic has changed the situation in the Union. It reinforced the need for member states to act collectively and speed up reforms to support their economies in recession thanks to the investments made possible by the massive stimulus plan adopted in July.

The crisis has weakened the European Union and Ursula von der Leyen will call on the Member States to pull themselves together in order to move forward. It will focus its message around its three priorities: the green pact, the digital revolution and geopolitics.

In particular, it should propose to increase the effort to reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions to 55% by 2030 in order to achieve the objective of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Elected narrowly by the European Parliament after its designation by the States, it relies on a majority made up of the three big families, the European People’s Party (EPP, pro-European right), the Social Democrats and the Liberal-centrists of Renew, whose priorities it has taken over.

She should call on them on Wednesday to vote without delay on the multiannual budget and thus unblock the implementation of the unprecedented 750 billion euros recovery plan which will create a common debt.

Ursula von der Leyen is also expected to call for the swift adoption of measures to help frontline member states – such as Greece, Malta or Italy – in managing migrant flows. This while the fire in the Greek camp of Moria recalled the urgency of a lasting European solution, five years after the 2015 crisis.

Brexit, threats to the rule of law, relations with Washington, tensions with Russia …

The Commission will present its much-anticipated migration policy reform project on 23 September. It is in the process of being finalized and the President of the Commission should not elaborate on this ultra-sensitive theme much during her speech so as not to offend the capitals: the talks with the Member States are not over.

Ursula von der Leyen is also expected to speak on several hot issues, starting with Brexit after London questioned some of its commitments, threats against the rule of law in the EU, in particular from Poland and Hungary. Without forgetting the relations with the major partners of the Old Continent, in particular the United States, against a background of strong trade tensions, Russia and China.

The form will be as important as the substance for this first speech which raises many expectations.

Ursula von der Leyen has embarked on a major communication operation to “sell” the results of her first year of presidency, while the cohesion of the Union was undermined at the start of the pandemic by states which have reacted in dispersed order.

On the foreign policy front, she should finally mention the situation in Belarus where the repression of opponents of President Lukashenko continues unabated, as well as the escalation of tensions with Turkey, two subjects at the heart of the European summit of 24 and September 25.

With AFP

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