Ursula von der Leyen: Bulgaria and Romania deserve to be part of SchengenEU | September 13, 2023, Wednesday // 11:40| views
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen
The President of the European Commission delivered her State of the Union address to the European Parliament, reviewing the achievements of the past year, the common challenges and presenting the priorities for the coming year.
In her 2023 State of the Union address, Ursula von der Leyen outlined the main priorities and flagship initiatives.
To a packed audience, she boasted that in the past year, Europe had weathered an energy crisis and welcomed millions of Ukrainian refugees into its homes — the largest displacement of people since World War II — and the economy had been boosted by unprecedented European investment.
For another year, the EU responded to unprecedented challenges, such as:
- stood side by side with Ukraine and took important steps to hold Russia accountable;
- increased investments at home and abroad;
- won the energy war declared by Russia on Europe;
- transform the economy by accelerating the ecological and digital transition;
- defended the core values of the EU - equality, inclusion and social justice.
This will be her last speech within the current legislative mandate before the European Parliament elections in 2024.
Von der Leyen insisted that Bulgaria and Romania be immediately admitted as members of the Schengen area.
"Migration management requires patience and long-term efforts, but above all unity between us. With the Migration Pact, we have achieved a new balance between protecting borders and protecting people. A balance between security and humanity," she added.
She praised Bulgaria and Romania for being an example in the EU of managing migration flows and granting asylum.
According to her, the future of Ukraine, the Western Balkans, and Moldova is in the European Union.
Von der Leyen is convinced that the future of the union lies in the current and future member states.
"The rule of law, justice, free journalism are our strategic priority. We must guarantee everyone's freedom and equality - this is our common interest," she pointed out.
The President of the EC stated that she fully supports the ideas of reforms of the bloc, including with a new treaty, if such a step is necessary.
She emphasized that it is necessary to think about how the bloc's institutions and budget will look in view of future expansion.
Less than a year before the European elections, von der Leyen called on politicians to regain the trust of Europeans.
"Let's address their concerns and get the job done. We have fulfilled over 90% of the policy guidelines since 2019. When we are united, the results are visible," she said.
She emphasized that in less than 300 days there are elections: "This is a time to reflect on the state of our union and the work of their representatives. We will see what kind of Europe people want".
In her words, the Union reflects the vision of a future after the Second World War, a future of peace and prosperity.
"When I talk to young people, I see the same vision, the same conviction that Europe must once again respond to the call of history," said the EC president.
Ursula von der Leyen has promised that European industry will be supported throughout the transition to a green economy.
"Our ambition is clear. The future of clean technologies must be created in Europe – this is our goal," she stressed.
According to her, China's unfair trade practices have hindered a number of businesses in the EU.
"This is why fairness in the global economy is so important – it affects people's lives and livelihoods," she insisted.
"We have to deal with these unfair practices. Let's reduce the risk, and not cut off relations with China," said the head of the EC.
According to her, with the directive on payment transparency, Europe has set out on the path that equal work deserves equal pay.
"There is no argument why a woman is paid less than a man for the same type of work, but our work is far from over and we must continue to strive for progress... Together we have shown that when Europe is brave and united, the results are there, but our work is not done. Let us be united, let us achieve results today and prepare for tomorrow," she insisted.
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