In the course of the Plenary meeting of the European Parliament (gathered again in Strasbourg), President Von der Leyen presented on September 15th the tenth speech on the State of the Union, since the practice was introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. In her speech, President von der Leyen looked at the results of the EU action over the last year and identified the priorities for the next 12 months, identifying a series of concrete proposals for new initiatives. CEC President Maxime Legrand comments on the main messages of the State of the Union.
“Taking stock of one’s activity, choosing what aspects to focus upon, is always a rather complex exercise that is however indispensable to reinforce trust and democratic accountability. Besides the specific considerations relating to the single parts of her speech, we have appreciated the read “thread” of highlighting the need to maintain the same unity shown during the pandemic when facing the challenges that lie ahead. Indeed, Europe – despite all its imperfections – has once again that only when it acts together, it can bring concrete results to its citizens. This has not been done effectively in every domain – the speech recognizes some soft spots, like in the foreign and defense policy – but in those areas where unity could work, success was undeniable.
In accordance with the recognized geopolitical stance of her Commission, the speech focuses to a great extent on the “external” dimension of the different policy areas, bringing forward two notions that are particularly relevant in our view: the fair contribution to the world challenges from all global actors (from climate change mitigation to public health) and the need for the EU to become autonomous and more resistant to global competitiveness in a large series of domains – from “chips” sovereignty to cyber-defense and tax avoidance. Other major potential threats might have probably deserved mentioning – securing reliable energy supplies, improving our industrial capacity just to name a few; but the call for more determination in strengthening the EU’s presence on the global scene is strong, and we support it.
Finally, if we look at the “internal” dimension of Von der Leyen’s words, we regret to notice that the emphasis on the wonders of the Single Market was not matched by significant and concrete references to the reinforcement of social Europe, also thanks to the contribution of social partners. And also with a reference to the sustainability transition and the imposing set of legislative measures that have been put on the table to make the transition a reality, more could be expected. To bring and keep together the complexity and interconnection of all the variables that “beat” the fast pace of our times, a strong capacity of foresight is required by all, policymakers and stakeholders supporting them alike. Managers are known for that – thinking ahead connections between people and facts and identifying the best strategies to take the most of such connections. They are indispensable to make the recovery work for everyone, preparing for a future that is worth living for that very youth Von der Leyen put at the core of her speech”.