The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union address on Wednesday was marked by several strong rhetorical notes, ranging from exciting references to historical destiny to touching anecdotes. However, according to MEP Milan Zver, she took too soft a position on important issues, “planting flowers” as usual, instead of talking about the concrete problems of the people. Zver believes that this is not enough to justify her running again for the position of President of the Commission.
Ursula von der Leyen‘s recent speech in the European Parliament earned her criticism from many politicians and NGOs, while at the same time, she was also trying to avoid provoking the main constituencies. MEP Milan Zver compared her speech to that of Friedrich Merz, leader of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), in the Bundestag, who, unlike the President of the European Commission, took clear positions on key issues that concern real people’s problems. “There was not enough ‘Merz’ in her speech,” Zver wrote on Twitter.
Merz: Focus on economic growth and the problem of illegal migration
MEP Milan Zver compared the two landmark speeches that happened in the last week in a Twitter message. “The first was given by Friedrich Merz, the CDU leader, in the Bundestag, and the second by Ursula von der Leyen, who spoke in the
European Parliament on the state of the Union. Merz strongly criticised German economic policy. Among other things, he said that Germany must remain an industrial society, maintain the strength of agriculture and the classic car industry, reopen the door to nuclear energy and maintain global competitiveness. At a time of climate change, the Germans should boost economic growth, not let the green transition bring it down. The biggest problem, however, is illegal migration, in relation to which the government is making itself look powerless. That is why Merz is calling for a stronger policy and more border controls,” Zver underlined Merz’s key messages.
The President of the European Commission was “planting flowers” again
Merz criticised the left, which, as he said, “instead of a free state, is building an all-embracing ‘paternalistic’ state that deprives citizens of their entrepreneurial spirit,” which he sees as a definitive break with Angela Merkel’s long-standing paradigm. Zver described Merz’s speech as ground-breaking and compared it to that of von der Leyen, who was too soft on the key problems plaguing the EU, and Zver believes that her running again for the presidency would not be justified. “As expected, she made a pleasing speech, full of well-worded promises, “planting flowers”, you could say, as she has done every year so far. There is a feeling that the concrete problems of the ordinary person have not been addressed in Strasbourg today. She has been spouting the platitudes of the Fit for 55 Platform about a clean or green transition in which the competitiveness of the EU economy is to be preserved. On farmers, she said that the EU needs them, especially their sustainable farming. You know what that means. A radical change in agriculture will not make Europe self-sufficient in terms of food. Who is finally going to explain that to her?” Zver continued.
His criticism of her speech also focused on the lack of focus on migration, which he said was statistically comparable to 2015. He also criticised von der Leyen for saying that the only promise she had made on combating migration was an international conference on smugglers, pointing out that there are valid European Council conclusions from years ago, which commit the EU to setting up entry points outside the EU’s borders, returning migrants to their countries of origin and strengthening the external Schengen border. “The European Commission should be enforcing these commitments, not just organising new and expensive international conferences. She has not said even a word about the NGOs that help smugglers and are sometimes even funded with EU money,” the MEP stresses.
Zver: the rule of law has become a political tool of the left, used to fight the centre-right
Von der Leyen again referred to the rule of law as the cornerstone of the EU, although it is clear that it has “proven to be a political tool of the left in the fight against centre-right governments.” Zver believes that EU citizens should hear proposals on how to set up a mechanism against such abuses. He went on to say that he was pleased to see the European Commission announce that it will pay more attention in the coming year to competitiveness, which he believes the EU has already lost enough of. According to Zver, the President boasted of her victory over Covid-19, the 800 billion development package, the green deal that will not jeopardise the economy, which he considers a “controversial claim”, and that despite the reasons against it, she is still sticking to the path she has set out.
Zver believes that the President “should have spoken more clearly to Europeans, highlighted the challenges and explained how the Commission will address them in the last year of her mandate. She blamed external factors for the problems, such as China, with which she is starting a trade war over China’s alleged dumping in the manufacturing of e-cars.” He believes that the protracted recovery is not only due to external factors, but mainly to bad economic policies in the EU, promoted or even led by the European Commission. “In short, a missed opportunity, there was not enough “Merz” in her speech – to conclude, that’s it!” he concluded his post.