In the annual State of the European Union debate, MEPs quizzed President von der Leyen on the Commission’s work in the past and its plans until the June 2024 elections.
Opening the debate, EP President, Roberta Metsola said: “The European Union today is stronger, and more united than ever before. The world is changing and Europe must adapt and change with it too. We must keep striving to make our Europe a place of equality of opportunity, of access, of prosperity - where everyone can reach their potential. We must keep reforming. We should always keep people’s concerns at the centre of all our actions.“
Commission President von der Leyen said that the EU has undergone a substantial transformation since she first presented her programme in 2019, adding: ”We have delivered over 90% of the political guidelines I presented” back then.
On the Green Deal, the decarbonisation of Europe’s industry while maintaining its competitiveness, she announced an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicles. ”We must defend ourselves against unfair practices” she said.
President von der Leyen stressed the importance of a fair transition for farmers, families and industry and that “Europe will do ’whatever it takes’ to keep its competitive edge.” She announced a competitiveness check by an independent board for every new legislation.
With regard to Artificial Intelligence, Ms von der Leyen said that AI will improve healthcare, boost productivity and help to address climate change. The Commission’s “number one priority is to ensure AI develops in a human-centric, transparent and responsible way” she said, also calling for an international panel of experts similar to the IPCC on climate change to steer its development.
On Ukraine, she announced that the Commission will propose the extension of the EU’s temporary protection to Ukrainians and an additional 50 billion euros over four years for investment and reforms. “Our support to Ukraine will endure.”
The Commission President also referred to the rule of law, enlargement, migration, EU-Africa relations, the Global Gateway initiative, climate change, food security, and an upcoming Social Partner Summit.