On 16 September, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave her first State of the Union address in the European Parliament. In a health and economic crisis-stricken Europe, the President of the European Commission rightly reminded us that COVID-19 “laid bare the strains on our health systems and the limits of a model that values wealth above wellbeing.”
From climate action to LGBTI+ rights, from the reduction of inequality to the rule of law, Ursula von der Leyen presented bold steps forward for decisive European action to address the challenges the EU and its citizens are facing. As European Greens, we now expect the Commission to deliver on these steps with bold action and we will dedicate our energy to being constructive supporters wherever the proposals of the Commission are in line with our goals.
Thomas Waitz, co-chair of the European Green Party and MEP, commented: “Our European Union is currently facing many historic challenges. The current COVID-19 health and economic crisis calls for bold European action. The Next Generation EU Recovery Plan is an ambitious instrument that should also commit to a transition to a social and green economy, tackling the acceleration of the climate crisis.”
“The European Commission cannot shy away from addressing the attacks on human rights and the rule of law. Commission President von der Leyen showed a path for EU action for citizens in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland, for LGBTI+ communities, for a free press, and for independent judicial systems. She must now deliver on these words with concrete proposals. This also means that the EU should not sign a trade agreement with the government of Bolsonaro in Brazil, which is blatantly violating human rights and democracy.”
“Our support to meet the current challenges faced by the EU will take the shape of solutions deeply rooted in our core values: more European solidarity and bolder steps towards European integration. This solidarity must be immediately enacted to provide a safe and humane solution for the thousands of refugees in the Moria camp and a longer-term structural commitment to change EU migration policies. If we cannot fulfil our moral and human duty of providing refugees with a solution, what is our Union worth?”
Evelyne Huytebroeck, co-chair of the European Green Party, added: “The COVID-19 crisis has merely caused a short pause to the system that is destroying nature and biodiversity and is warming the planet at an unprecedented pace. President von der Leyen rightly recalled the importance to do whatever we can to fulfil our collective engagements within the Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 1.5°C. The commitment to cut the EU’s emissions by 55% by 2030 at the very minimum is a welcome step but does not answer the science nor the emergency and scope of the climate crisis. We must now rapidly develop concrete plans to achieve this absolutely crucial and minimal target. Any delay in acting towards achieving this goal will directly reduce the chances of every young European to live a fulfilling life.”
“We also welcome the ambition to create a health union. Cooperation and solidarity in this field are also the key to healthier lives for all European citizens. Through the Conference on the Future of Europe, we will encourage all citizens, civil society and local authorities to be heard and listened to on that topic.”
“Finally, the path to recovery should drive us towards a more social union. As such, we are glad to see that a framework on minimum wage is now high on the Commission’s agenda. Ensuring fair wages for European workers will be instrumental to a strong and sustainable recovery.”