The Von der Leyen Commission

Written by Pedro Silva Pereira, Dita Charanzová, Heidi Hautala and Dimitrios Papadimoulis on 23 December 2019 in Opinion
Opinion

We spoke to MEPs from across Parliament about what they expect to see from the new European Commission.

A new start

An opportunity to redefine what europe means, says Pedro Silva Pereira (PT, S&D)

The election of Ursula von der Leyen represents a new page for the EU.

The adoption of many of the S&D Group’s priorities into the new Commission Programme offers a great opportunity, particularly in light of discussions on the Future of Europe.

This means placing a strong emphasis on tackling climate change, deepening the Economic and Monetary Union and increasing the social dimension of the Union.

Moreover, it is also time for the EU to reclaim its central role in the world’s geopolitical arena, especially by improving relations with Africa and Asia.

For that, we must seek balanced and fair compromises between the EU and its partners, while also securing fair trade agreements that guarantee high standards in terms of environmental protection and social and working rights.

I hope that this Commission will work closely with the Parliament; cooperation is vital to ensure the success of the programme and to improve the trust of our citizens in the future of the European project.

S&D members will work hard to monitor the application of the Commission’s programme and to ensure that the EU remains a beacon of democracy and respect for the rule of law.

 

All must benefit

The single market needs a single focus, writes Dita Charanzová (CZ, RE)

A lot is expected of this new Commission. Economically, the situation is better than it was five years ago.

However, there are several new global challenges, with increasing transatlantic tensions and an assertive China, while within the EU there are issues such as Brexit and migration.

The Single Market will continue to be one of the biggest issues.

President von der Leyen did well to give this brief to a single Commissioner, covering both the physical and digital Single Market.

Yet it was disappointing to read her guidelines and see that the Single Market is not referenced directly once; I can only hope that actions will speak louder than words.

The success of von der Leyen’s most ambitious promises, such as those on AI and the Green Deal, can only be achieved if there is a renewed focus on completing the Single Market. Whether this will succeed will also depend on the new President’s ability to unite a more fractured European Parliament and all the Member States.

Each Member State must feel that it has had a say in making policy and will benefit from it. There can be no winners or losers, only winners.

 

Strength through partnership

The EU must work harder on its global role, argues Heidi Hautala (FI, Greens/EFA)

The European Union remains a force in an increasingly demanding geopolitical environment - but it needs to get its act together.

The first truly supranational democracy, the biggest internal market in the world, the EU has the possibility of playing a pivotal role in seeking solutions to global challenges such as climate change, conflicts and inequalities.

Next year, the 70-year old Union will open a Conference for the Future of Europe, bringing together the institutions, Member States and civil society.

I see this as perhaps the last chance to unblock decisions necessary to deal with migration, a just transition to a green economy and the Union’s global role.

The requirement of unanimity of all Member States is the stumbling block, be it in taxation or in foreign policy.

The Union as an ardent defender of a rules-based, multilateral world order, must actively seek more partnerships. As Ursula von der Leyen said: “Partnerships makes us stronger.”

 

Insufficient ambition

Realistic goals demand realistic investment, warns Dimitrios Papadimoulis (EL, GUE/NGL)

I believe that it is impossible to achieve the goals set by President von der Leyen with a meagre budget of one percent of European GDP.

We are against the major cuts that the Commission is proposing in some of its central policies, such as the social and regional cohesion policies. We are also against reducing funds for the Common Agricultural Policy.

From our point of view, it is embarrassing to witness the EU - mainly due to the Council’s position but also because of the Commission’s stand - leaving Greece alone to deal with the refugee-migration crisis; this shows insufficient solidarity.

For a number of reasons, we demand more ambitious targets in tackling the climate crisis, reducing corruption, fighting tax evasion, enhancing democratic accountability and increasing transparency within the EU, with a stronger European Parliament.

I regret to say this but, from my point of view, the inadequate term of the former European Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, will soon be regarded as a good one, compared to what we expect from the von der Leyen Commission.

About the author

Pedro Silva Pereira (PT, S&D), Dita Charanzová (CZ, RE), Heidi Hautala (FI, Greens/EFA) and Dimitrios Papadimoulis (EL, GUE/NGL) are Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament

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