Von der Leyen to allay EPP concerns in annual speech – POLITICO

STRASBOURG — European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will use her opening speech to MEPs Wednesday morning to reassure her center-right political party that she hears concerns about the EU’s direction in matters of climate and migration policy.

As next year’s European elections approach, von der Leyen will use the handbrake on new legislation and announce she will focus on the impact of EU policies on businesses and citizens, senior official says of the Commission who was granted anonymity to speak freely.

His State of the European Union speech – which could last more than an hour in English, French and German – will usher in a new “implementation phase” of the Green Deal, while vigorously highlighting its key achievements in during four years of crisis. . She plans to highlight the benefits of the Green Deal for industry, a major concern for some European companies facing soaring energy and input costs, “to ensure that the implementation phase goes smoothly.” the most collaborative way we can imagine.”

Von der Leyen tasked the new head of the EU Green Deal, Maroš Šefčovič, to discuss with businesses and citizens the impact of the EU green agenda.

According to the official, von der Leyen will check the names of farmers, one of the EPP’s target groups, who have expressed concerns about EU climate policy. It will draw attention to the role of the agricultural community in food security and safety and highlight the importance of biodiversity.

Von der Leyen, although widely seen as one of the most powerful Commission presidents, has in recent months come under pressure from centre-right political heavyweights, led by fellow German Manfred Weber, particularly on policy climate and environmental issues as business costs rise. .

With the European elections less than a year away, von der Leyen will need the support of the center-right EPP if she seeks another five-year term as head of the EU executive.

But one thing she will not do: confirm whether she is seeking a second term. The official was adamant that von der Leyen would not respond to growing speculation about seeking a second term as Commission head, nor running as lead candidate or Spitzenkandidat.

Wednesday’s speech is also expected to touch on the subject of migration, with von der Leyen calling for the rapid adoption of the migration pact before the elections. She will also present the recently concluded agreement with Tunisia – which has been criticized by progressive politicians in Parliament and human rights groups – as a possible model for dealing with migration pressures.

On Ukraine, von der Leyen will reiterate the EU’s support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia. But she will also call on the EU to think about how the enlargement process will work – and how it should prepare internally to accept new members – as member countries consider allowing Ukraine to join the block.

Jacopo Barigazzi contributed reporting.


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