Daniel Freund

13. September 2023 Democracy

Von der Leyen on the 'State of the Union': No word on the crisis of democracy in the EU

Ursula von der Leyen used the last ‘State of the Union’ speech of this term to calm the rumblings in her party family – the conservative EPP. As previously demanded by conservatives, she addressed European farmers, European industry and the migration issue. In the area of the rule of law, she announced that in the future she would also include EU accession candidates in the annual rule of law report. Poland and Hungary were not mentioned, despite the ongoing crisis of democracy and the rule of law in both countries. In view of future enlargements, Von der Leyen advocated the launch of an EU-Convention and possible Treaty changes.

Daniel Freund, Member of the European Parliament for the Greens, comments:

“Von der Leyen’s speech had something for everyone – especially for her own party friends. It is clear that the Commission President has laid the first foundations for her re-election campaign. It remains unclear, however, what Von der Leyen’s position is on the attempts of her party leaders – Manfred Weber (EPP) and Friedrich Merz (CDU) – to form alliances with the far right. The question of whether she would allow herself to be re-elected Commission President with votes from far-right parties remains open. The voters deserve clarity here at last. An alliance with the right would call into question von der Leyen’s merits for the Green Deal. 10 months until the European elections and Ms. von der Leyen still does not make it clear whether she can be elected at all this time or not.”


“Von der Leyen almost completely left out the biggest internal threat to the European Union in her speech. In Poland as well as in Hungary, basic democratic principles are being dismantled at a rapid pace. The citizens of Poland and Hungary are threatened with a loss of EU funds in the triple-digit billions at the beginning of the year because their governments are trampling on the rule of law and fundamental rights. The Commission President is long overdue to put her foot down in Warsaw and Budapest. Europe must make clear that it is on the side of European citizens in the fight against autocracy.”


State of the European Union speech: https://state-of-the-union.ec.europa.eu/index_en 

10 months until the European elections and Ms. von der Leyen still does not make it clear whether she can be elected at all this time or not.


Climate catastrophe, companies that pay no taxes, the impact of digitalisation - no single country can solve these problems alone. For this we need a strong European Union that is capable of taking action. For the Greens/European Free Alliance, I am responsible for leading the work on the conference on the future of the EU.