Europe perseveres

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Ursula von der Leyen reinforces the Green Pact as a strategy for the future

President Ursula von der Leyen’s first State of the Union address, delivered yesterday, will not go down in the annals of great innovations or riskiest bets. But amid the hodgepodge of allusions to multiple issues – that desire to leave nothing unrecognized, which makes real priorities relative – the President of the Commission was able to convey the message that the European Union will persevere in the pursuit of key commitments. Such as the Green Pact strategy, on which it advanced an increase in the requirement to reduce greenhouse gases, from the current goal of 40% to 55%, in 2030. What it completed with the announcement that a 30% % of the 750,000 million that the Community Executive will capture in the market to finance the economic recovery plan will come from green Eurobonds.

This link between the political priority of ecological reform of the growth model and expansionary economic policy is promising, and it would have been worth more detail. In any case, the perseverance in stimulating an expansionary fiscal policy of all the Member States and in the common recovery and resilience plan is also remarkable. “This is not the time to withdraw support” for the recovery, he insisted.

The message is in tune with those launched last week by other Union institutions, such as the Eurogroup. Its new president, the Irish Paschal Donohoe, pledged that “there will be no sudden stop, no policy that leads to the brink and in general fiscal policy will continue to support the economy.” And Ecofin, which advocated a minimum corporate tax and a digital tax to nurture common debt. The president of the ECB, Christine Lagarde, expressed himself with greater ambiguity, but was discreetly and timely corrected by several advisers, who ensured the continuity of the enormous monetary financing effort.

Even though this coincidence between institutions is valuable —because it reaffirms the common challenge— and the Commission’s specific climate and economic commitments are very substantive, the weakness or lack of strong positions in other very urgent cases should be highlighted. Thus, the seriousness of the British populist challenge, which threatens to break what has already been agreed, cannot be dispatched only with a sharply collected phrase from Margaret Thatcher on the duty to fulfill the agreements. And the precarious result of European coordination in various phases of the pandemic or the evanescence of this Commission in the migration scandal – we will see next week the quality of its new proposals – deserved at least some self-criticism and some criticism. There were none.

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