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Ursula von der Leyen State of the EU 2020

17 September 2020

In a commentary on Ursula von der Leyen’s speech yesterday, Zuzana Kepplová both praises the refurbished form and points out the possible hurdles facing such political addresses. Here is Visegrad Insight’s recap of the State of the European Union. 

  • The first SOTEU by the new Commission’s President brought forward a new style allowing UVDL to address more sensitivities across the continent than her predecessor. 
  • It was a greener, digitally savvy, more foreign-policy oriented and research focused speech with obvious undertones to the pandemic and also the forgotten issues of poverty, corruption and underdevelopment in CEE. 
  • Announcing changes to the EU’s Dublin Regulation, she hinted at the delicate topic of migration but was rather cryptic on the rule of law violations – both issues central to the illiberal trends in the region.
  • There was a notable rebuke of Poland’s LGBTQ+ free zones which were restated as “humanity free zones which have no place in the EU.”
  • Putting forward an ambitious common foreign policy, UVDL risked accusations of federalism and reproach from national governments, but critical comments on China and Russia as well as breaches of the Brexit agreement were entirely appropriate.
Ursula Von der Leyen (by Daniel Garcia)

The first SOTEU by Von der Leyen brought forward a new style which allowed her to reach the broader public better than her predecessor.

Panting, always busy with another crisis, reshuffling a series of tasks in front of him: such was the impression of the EU when Jean-Claude Juncker used to give his annual reports.

Some observers will miss his old-world humour; however, in her first State of the EU speech, the new head of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen (UVDL), has shown energy, an astute ability to understand the key challenges facing the Union as well as listen and make sense of the cacophony of voices surrounding her.

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Zuzana Kepplova

#DemocraCE Fellow. Columnist, writer and an editor of the opinion section at the leading Slovak newspaper, SME.

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