Correspondent in Brussels
Ursula von der Leyen He delivered one of the longest State of the Union speeches on record yesterday, and despite the fact that the chamber was still half empty due to social distancing measures, his words were applauded by almost every group and gave the impression that if there had been a vote he would have passed it by a considerable margin. His invocation of the words of Robert Shuman on Europe’s need for a ‘political soul’ in its attempt to highlight its own work at the helm of the EU executive during a particularly difficult year and which has tested the ability of the institution it presides to be an essential element of the common fight against the pandemic and its economic effects. Taking into account that in the EU everything is pending the result of the German elections next 25, Von der Leyen made a speech more realistic than ambitious, but in any case pragmatic, along the lines of what other Europeans usually expect from any sensible German leader.
No member of the Commission had even dared to advance the meaning of this annual speech, which is the quintessential appointment of the beginning of the political course and in which Von der Leyen has wanted to include a solid and balanced message with future projection and that can be accepted by the majority groups, from the popular and social democrats to the liberals of ‘Renew’ and, above all with continuous allusions to the greens who can be precisely a ‘hinge’ force in the German elections and from there project into European politics.
Von der Leyen did not refer only to the virtuous intervention of the Commission in the management of the purchase of vaccines, although in this sense he was very clear about the need for the EU to contribute strongly to the vaccination of the citizens of the countries poor people with more than 500 million doses in the next 12 months, once Europeans already have a reserve of more than one billion doses. He made permanent references to young people as recipients of the strategy to transform the European economy and He even anticipated the launch of a program to be called ALMA and it will be similar to Erasmus for university students but intended for NEETs who lack studies and training, so that they can have work experience in a country other than their own so that it can be used for their job placement and at the same time develop a feeling of adherence to the idea of Europe. He has also promised that he will fight as hard to achieve social homologation in which “dignity at work” is a priority with the same intensity as the fight against tax evasion.
A more independent Europe
He is clear about the idea of a more independent Europe, rather, self-sufficient, which does not renounce its transatlantic relationship but that he has learned not to depend on factors that he cannot control. Hence come the proposals for a Defense Europe, a “European ecosystem” of semiconductors, because “there is no digital revolution without these microchips and as we speak, thousands of companies are slowing down their production for lack of these components” and therefore ” we are going to put all our energy into it.
And since it is about autonomy, Von der Leyen also announced that he plans to move forward on the path that the Commission has more own resources so that it is not captive of the decision of the 27 member countries when preparing the budget . The door that will be used to try to give way to this idea is the “Next Generation” program, which is the one that generates the funds for the reconstruction of the pandemic through debt assumed by the Commission itself. (750,000 million euros) and that it is convenient for all governments to assume that they will be reimbursed precisely with resources obtained by the Commission itself.