Ursula von der Leyen’s bid for Parliamentary support

Ursula von der Leyen’s bid for Parliamentary support

Mister President, Ladies and gentlemen, Exactly 40 years ago, the first President of the European Parliament, Simone Veil, is elected and presents her vision of a more united and fair Europe. It is thanks to her, and to all the other European icons, that I present to you today my vision of Europe. And 40 years later, it is with great pride that I can say: It is finally a woman who is the presidential candidate of the European Commission. I am thankful to all those who broke down barriers and conventions. I am thankful to all those who have built a Europe of peace, a united Europe, a Europe of values. It is this European conviction that has guided me throughout my life and career – as a mother, as a doctor and as a politician. It is this courage and boldness of the pioneers like Simone Veil who is at the heart of my vision of Europe. And it will be this spirit that will guide the European Commission that I intend to chair. Mister President, Honorable Members, The founding fathers and mothers of Europe have built a tremendous work out of the rubble and ashes of the world wars. Peace. A strong common market, unlimited trade, travel, research and work. 500 million Europeans live today between Riga and Limassol, between Athens and Lisbon in prosperity and freedom. The generation of my children can not imagine a life without this sense of home Europe. When this happy generation was born, we, the elders, thought that things would go on and on. Today it is clear to the last that we must fight again and stand up for our Europe.
The whole world is challenged to deal with disruptive developments that do not bypass Europe. Demographic change, the globalisation of the global economy, the rapid digitisation of our working world and, of course, climate change.
None of these meta-developments is new, they have long been predicted by science.
The novelty is that today, as citizens of Europe, regardless of the country in which we live, we are actually experiencing and feeling the effects. Whether it is the Finnish wheat farmers who are affected by the drought or whether it is the deadly heat wave in France: we feel climate change quite concretely. Whether it is the pensioner in Ireland who has to deal with online banking, or the worker in Poland, who has to continue his education after 20 years in order to keep his job: we are feeling the digitization in concrete terms. Whether it is regions in Europe where schools, hospitals or businesses have to close down, we are actually experiencing demographic change. All of this has left people with a feeling
of losing control. Of looser ties within our communities. None of these challenges will
go away. But there have been different ways to react to these trends. Some are turning
towards authoritarian regimes, some are buying their global influence and creating dependencies
by investing in ports and roads. And others are turning towards protectionism. None of these options are for us. We want
multilateralism, we want fair trade, we defend the rules-based order because we know it is
better for all of us. We have to do it the European way. But if we are to go down the
European path, we must first rediscover our unity. If we are united on the inside, nobody
will divide us from the outside. If we close the gaps between us, we can turn
today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities. A European Union that strives for more Our most pressing challenge is keeping our
planet healthy. This is the greatest responsibility and opportunity of our times. I want Europe
to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050. To make this happen,
we must take bold steps together. Our current goal of reducing our emissions by 40% by 2030
is not enough. We must go further. We must strive for more.
A two-step approach is needed to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 by 50, if not 55%. The EU
will lead international negotiations to increase the level of ambition of other major economies
by 2021. Because to achieve real impact, we do not only have to be ambitious at home – we
have to do that, yes – but the world has to move together. To make this happen, I will put forward a
Green Deal for Europe in my first 100 days in office. I will put forward the first ever
European Climate Law which will set the 2050 target into law. This increase of ambition will need investment
on a major scale. Public money will not be enough. I will propose a Sustainable Europe
Investment Plan and turn parts of the European Investment Bank into a Climate Bank. This
will unlock €1 trillion of investment over the next decade. It means change. All of us and every sector
will have to contribute, from aviation to maritime transport to the way each and everyone
of us travels and lives. Emissions must have a price that changes our behaviour. To complement
this work, and to ensure our companies can compete on a level-playing field, I will introduce
a Carbon Border Tax to avoid carbon leakage. But what is good for our planet must also
be good for our people and our regions. Of course I know about the importance of cohesion
funds. But we need more. We need a just transition for all. Not all of our regions have the same
starting point – but we all share the same destination. This is why I will propose a
Just Transition Fund to support those most affected. This is the European way: we are ambitious.
We leave nobody behind. And we offer perspectives. If we want to succeed with this ambitious
plan we need a strong economy. Because what we want to spend we need to earn first. For that we need to strengthen the backbone
of our economies: the small and medium-sized enterprises. They are innovative, they are
entrepreneurial, they are flexible and agile, they create jobs, they provide vocational
training to our youth. But they can only do all this if they have access to capital everywhere
in this huge Single market. Let’s get rid of all the barriers. Let’s open the door.
Let’s finally complete the Capital Markets Union. Our SMEs deserve it. And we need to work within the Stability and
Growth Pact. Where investment and reforms are needed, we should make sure they can be
done. We should make use of all the flexibility allowed in the rules. We are proud of our
economy. We want to make it stronger. But there is also a clear and simple logic.
It’s not people that serve the economy. It’s the economy that serves our people. In our
Social Market Economy we must reconcile the market with the social. Therefore I will refocus
our European Semester to make sure we stay on track with our Sustainable Development
Goals. And I will stand for fair taxes – whether
for brick and mortar industries or digital businesses. When the tech giants are making
huge profits in Europe, this is fine because we are an open market and we like competition.
But if they are making these profits by benefiting from our education system, our skilled workers,
our infrastructure and our social security, if this is so, it is not acceptable that they
make profits, but they are barely paying any taxes because they play our tax system. If
they want to benefit, they have to share the burden. Making the most of Europe’s potential Honourable Members, The European way is also about using all of
our potential: our people, our talent, our diversity. It is about creating a fairer and
more equal Union. This will drive me forward every single day I am in office – as it
has throughout my career. We have come a long way since I was a minister
for family affairs and had to fight to introduce parental pay or access to childcare for families.
But the fight for fairness never stops. It is still too difficult for hard working families
to make ends meet in Europe. I want to ensure that work pays. In a Social Market Economy,
every person that is working full time should earn a minimum wage that pays for a decent
living. Therefore we will develop a framework, of course in respect of the different labour
markets. But I think the optimal option is to have collective bargaining by employers’
unions and trade unions because they tailor the minimum wage to the sector or to the region
necessary. Of course I am aware there are different models, but we have to create the
framework. And I want better protection for those who lose their jobs when our economy
takes a severe hit. A European Unemployment Benefit Reinsurance Scheme will support our
economies and our people in times of external shocks. Of course there are national unemployment
insurances but a reinsurance scheme for these heavy external shocks is needed in Europe. I also want more equality and fairness for
our young people. Youth unemployment is at 14.2% in Europe, but ranges from 5% to 40%
in some countries. We cannot accept this. Young people have aspirations, they want to
work, they want to have a future – and it is our job to let them achieve this. This
is why I will make sure the Youth Guarantee, which I started when I was a minister for
labour affairs in our Council, is working as well as it can in every Member State. And
I will support the European Parliament’s idea to triple the Erasmus+ budget as part of the
next long-term budget. We have to care for the most vulnerable: our
children. We have to fight poverty. I know as a mother of seven that it makes a difference
for their entire life if children have access to education, sports, music, healthy food
and to a loving environment. We need a Child Guarantee to help ensure that every child
in Europe at risk of poverty and social exclusion has access to the most basic of rights like
healthcare and education. It will empower them and it pays tremendously if we back them
when they are young. This is part of my action plan to bring our Pillar of Social Rights
to life. And I will start at home by example: I will
ensure full gender equality in my College of Commissioners. If Member States do not
propose enough female Commissioners, I will not hesitate to ask for new names. Since 1958
there have been 183 Commissioners. Only 35 were women. That is less than 20%. We represent
half of our population. We want our fair share. We also need to talk openly about violence
against women. If 1 in 5 women have already suffered physical or sexual violence in the
European Union and 55% of women have been sexually harassed, this is clearly not a women’s
issue. I will propose to add violence against women on the list of EU crimes defined in
the Treaty. And the European Union should join the Istanbul Convention. I am convinced: if we close the gaps between
us, we will emerge stronger as a Union. Defending Europe’s values Honourable Members, The cradle of our European civilisation is
Greek philosophy and Roman Law. And our European continent went through its darkest period
when we were ruled by dictators and Rule of Law was banished. For centuries, Europeans
fought so hard for their liberty and independence. The Rule of Law is our best tool to defend
these freedoms and to protect the most vulnerable in our Union. This is why there can be no
compromise when it comes to respecting the Rule of Law. There never will be. I will ensure
that we use our full and comprehensive toolbox at European level. In addition, I fully support
an EU-wide Rule of Law Mechanism. To be clear: the new instrument is not an alternative to
the existing instruments, but an additional one. The Commission will always be an independent
guardian of the Treaties. Lady Justice is blind – she will defend the Rule of Law
wherever it is attacked. *** Honourable Members, The Rule of Law is universal. It applies to
all. In the last five years, more than 17,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean,
which has become one of the deadliest borders in the world. At sea there is the duty to
save lives and in our Treaties and conventions there
is the legal and moral duty to respect the dignity of every human being. The European Union can and must defend these
values. The European Union needs humane borders. We must save, but saving alone is not enough.
We must reduce irregular migration, we must fight smugglers and traffickers – it is
organised crime –, we must preserve the right to asylum and improve the situation
of refugees, for example through humanitarian corridors in close cooperation with the UNHCR.
We need empathy and decisive action. I am aware of how difficult and divisive discussions
on this issue are. We need to address the legitimate concerns of many and look at how
we can overcome our differences. I will propose a New Pact on Migration and Asylum, including
the relaunch of the Dublin reform. This will allow us to return to a fully functioning
Schengen Area of free movement, the key driver of our prosperity, security and freedoms.
A centrepiece in this ambition is a reinforced European Border and Coast Guard Agency. We
need to reach a standing corps of 10,000 Frontex border guards not by 2027, but way earlier,
at least by 2024. We have to modernise our asylum system. A
Common European Asylum System must be exactly that – common. We can only have stable external
borders if we give enough help to Member States facing the most pressure because of where
they are on the map. We need solidarity. We all need to help each
other and contribute. We need a new way of burden-sharing. And we must make fair cooperation
offers to countries of origin and transit which are in the interests of both sides.
Diplomacy, economic development, investment, stability and security are needed so that
people have a perspective. I would like to tell you a story about perspective.
Four years ago, I was lucky enough to welcome a 19-year old refugee from Syria into my home
and my family. He spoke no German and was deeply scarred by his experience of civil
war and flight. Today, 4 years later, he is fluent in German, English and Arabic. He is
a community leader by day, in vocational training and a student for his high school degree by
night. He is an inspiration for us all. One day, he wants to go home. A responsible leader in the world Honourable Members, As a Defence Minister, I have been many times
in this war-torn neighbourhood. I will never forget the words of former President of Iraq
Masoum, who said: We want to see more Europe here. The world is calling for more Europe.
The world needs more Europe. I believe Europe should have a stronger and
more united voice in the world – and it needs to act fast. That is why we must have
the courage to take foreign policy decisions by qualified majority. And to stand united
behind them. The cornerstone of our collective defence
will always be NATO. We will stay transatlantic and we have to become more European. This
is why we created the European Defence Union. Our work for our European Union of security
and defence is embedded in comprehensive security. Stabilisation always comes with diplomacy,
reconciliation and reconstruction. Our servicemen and servicewomen work side
by side with police officers, diplomats and development aid workers. These men and women
deserve our utmost respect and recognition for their tireless service for Europe. *** I cannot talk about Europe without talking
about our friends from the United Kingdom. For the very first time in 2016 a Member State
decided to leave the European Union. This is a serious decision. We regret it, but we
respect it. Since then, together with the current government of the United Kingdom,
the European Union has worked hard to organise the orderly departure of the United Kingdom. The Withdrawal Agreement concluded with the
government of the United Kingdom provides certainty where Brexit created uncertainty:
in preserving the rights of citizens and in preserving peace and stability on the island
of Ireland. These two priorities are mine, too. However, I stand ready for a further extension
of the withdrawal date, should more time be required for a good reason. In any case, the
United Kingdom will remain our ally, our partner and our friend. A new push for European democracy Honourable Members, When I came to Strasbourg 13 days ago, I promised
I’d come to listen. I have heard your concerns, your hopes and your expectations. The Political
Guidelines which I will send you today reflect our discussions. From what I have heard, I
have drawn my conclusions and I have made my decisions. First, I want European citizens to play a
leading and active part in building the future of our Union. I want them to have their say
at a Conference on the Future of Europe, to start in 2020 and run for two years. Second, I want us to work together to improve
the Spitzenkandidaten system. We need to make it more visible to the wider electorate and
we need to address the issue of transnational lists at the European elections as a complementary
tool of European democracy. And third – yes, I support a right of initiative
for the European Parliament. When this House, acting by majority of its Members, adopts
Resolutions requesting the Commission to submit legislative proposals, I commit to responding
with a legislative act in full respect of the proportionality, subsidiarity, and better
law-making principles. I am convinced that our stronger partnership
will further help to make people’s voices heard. Europas Versprechen Herr Präsident, Mein Vater war 15 Jahre alt, als der schaurige
Krieg, durch den mein Land Tod, Verwüstung, Vertreibung und Zerstörung über unseren
Kontinent gebracht hat, endete. Er hat seinen Kindern, mir und meinen 6 Geschwistern,
oft davon erzählt. Er hat vor allem davon erzählt, was es für ihn bedeutet hat, dass
die anderen Länder uns wieder die Hand gereicht haben, und uns in den Kreis der demokratischen
Völker zurückgenommen haben. Er hat bei der Montan-Union angefangen und uns anfangs
gesagt: Wir treiben wieder Handel miteinander und wenn man Handel treibt, dann entstehen
Freundschaften und Freunde schießen nicht aufeinander. Er war Kabinettschef bei von der Groeben in
der Hallstein Kommission und später Generaldirektor für Wettbewerbsfragen. Deshalb bin ich in
Brüssel geboren und Europäerin gewesen, bevor ich später gelernt habe, dass ich Deutsche
bin und Niedersächsin. Und deshalb gibt es für mich nur eines: Europa einen und stärken. Wer mit mir dieses Europa stärken, wachsen
und blühen lassen will, hat mich als leidenschaftliche Kämpferin an seiner oder ihrer Seite. Wer
aber dieses Europa schwächen, spalten oder ihm seine Werte nehmen will, der findet in
mir eine erbitterte Gegnerin. Als mein Vater alt und an seinem Lebensende
war, da hatte sich seine Erzählung von Europa verändert. Er sprach nicht mehr so viel vom
Krieg. Er sagte: Europa ist wie eine lange Ehe. Die Liebe wird nicht größer als am
ersten Tag, aber sie wird tiefer. Weil wir wissen, dass wir uns aufeinander verlassen
können, in guten wie in schweren Zeiten. Weil wir wissen, dass wir streiten, aber uns
wieder versöhnen können. Weil wir nie vergessen, warum wir diesen Bund eingegangen sind. Wir hier alle in diesem Raum leben in einem
Europa, das gewachsen ist, gereift ist, das stark geworden ist mit 500 Millionen Einwohnern.
Über 200 Millionen Menschen sind zur Wahl gegangen. Dieses Europa hat Einfluss. Es will
Verantwortung übernehmen für sich und diese Welt. Das ist nicht immer leicht – das weiß ich
– das ist schmerzhaft und anstrengend, aber es ist unsere nobelste Pflicht! Die Menschen
wollen sehen, dass wir liefern, vorankommen. Die Jugend fordert das. Meine Kinder sagen
mir zu Recht: Spielt nicht auf Zeit, sondern macht was draus. Dazu bin ich angetreten. Dazu brauche ich
Ihre Hilfe und Unterstützung. Dazu rufe ich alle Europäerinnen und Europäer auf, mitzumachen.
Es ist das Kostbarste, was wir haben: Es lebe Europa, vive l’Europe, long live Europe.


  1. I like her,
    don' care much for her policies
    but when she makes a speech in German
    if you tweek the mixer knobs a bit, make her voice a little deeper and add a bit of echo
    she sounds just like Adolf

  2. She is definitely very smart, speaks perfect French and English. Notice ho w she does not call Germany by name, no more Deutschland, only Europe. She said ‘I was born in Europe. I live in Europe and I am European’ They are trying to make Europe like the United States of America. Never ever will happen! Too many differences, too many languages and customs. Also notice her English is American. Interesting, no?

  3. This is exactly what Europe needs. A strongman leader who aggressively promotes the European identity while fighting back against outsider bullies taking advantage of our institutions.

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