DIRECT |  Pandemic, economic recovery, rule of law or climate: Von der Leyen draws the 'new' EU after Covid

The European Union already sees the light at the end of the dark pandemic tunnel, but has many short-term duties pending. To draw the panorama fundamentally for next year will be in charge this Wednesday the president of the Comisión Europea, Ursula von der Leyen, in the debate on the state of the Union, which will take place in Strasbourg and in which the head of the Community Executive will share her perspective and her proposals with MEPs.

The State of the Union debate, live:

The demand is maximum and the agenda is full. The most pressing issue is the economic recovery, when more than a year has passed since the approval of the recovery funds and some of the Member States – Spain among them – have already received the first installments. In this sense, Von der Leyen will insist on the need to meet the established criteria for the Commission and to bet without fuss on the ecological transition and the digital transition, which are the two fundamental pillars for the reforms.

The debate on the state of the Union returns to the French city and it will be the first time that the president has delivered her speech at the headquarters in Strasbourg, since last year the event was held in Brussels and very marked by the coronavirus pandemic. The European Parliament is gradually recovering its usual activity and it is expected that the debate can be interpreted as a real restart once the worst of the health crisis has passed.

Also in relation to the Von der Leyen recovery funds will take the opportunity to address the issue of the rule of law, especially in relation to Hungary and Poland. The plans of both countries are blocked for non-compliance with democratic values ​​and the European Commission has opened the ban against Orbán and Morawiecki, following the demands of Parliament. That is another of the great challenges for the EU in the coming months: controlling two partners who want to make their way on their own, oblivious to the values ​​set forth in the Treaties.

Advances in strategic autonomy and climatic demands

On the other hand, the geostrategic issue will be on the table. One of the main bets of the Von der Leyen Commission has been from the beginning that the EU gain autonomy as a global actor, and the crisis in Afghanistan has highlighted these needs. It was the High Representative Josep Borrell who marked the line to follow, warning of the need for a European army or at least an emergency unit to address situations such as those experienced in Kabul without being, he said, “subjects” of the United States. In any case, it is an issue that does not find consensus either among the partners or in the European Parliament.

Ursula Von der Leyen will also touch on the environmental chapter after the presentation in July of the battery of proposals from Brussels to make the transition to climate neutrality a reality by 2050 across the EU, a series of legislative initiatives that will begin a complex legislative journey this fall before becoming law. This obviously has a direct relationship with the countries’ recovery plans and the President of the Commission will call for acceleration along that path.

In addition, from all of the above, the EU resumes the political course, emphasizing the optimal application of its trade agreements, while seeking greater harmony with the United States. to put an end to their squabbles and the crystallization of the pacts reached with China or Mercosur. The Commission expects to publish in October or November its fifth report on the application of the free trade agreements that the EU has in force, including those achieved with South Korea, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.

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