EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to travel to Kyiv today and meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Von der Leyen said in her State of the Union speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg that the question would be how Ukraine would gain access to the EU internal market. At the same time, she promised Ukraine emergency aid of 100 million euros to rebuild schools.
Zelenskyj’s wife Olena Zelenska is also present in the plenary session of the EU Parliament. In her speech, which received applause, von der Leyen thanked Selenskyj and his wife for their commitment. You gave your people a voice in the Russian war of aggression and gave hope to the whole world, von der Leyen said to Olena Selenska.
Against the background of the war in Ukraine, she swore the citizens of the European Union to expect difficult months. “The coming months will not be easy,” she said. “Neither for families who have difficulty making ends meet, nor for companies that have to make difficult decisions about the future.”
There is a lot at stake not only for Ukraine, but also for Europe and the whole world. “We will be put to the test,” von der Leyen said. Russia’s war is not only a war against Ukraine. “This is a war on our energy supplies, a war on our economy, a war on our values and a war on our future.” Autocracy is fighting democracy. She is firmly convinced that with courage and solidarity, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be defeated and that Europe will ultimately gain the upper hand.
Von der Leyen continued that Russia could not expect the EU sanctions to be lifted in the foreseeable future. “I don’t want to leave any doubt that the sanctions will last.” Moscow bears responsibility for the fact that the Russian economy is falling behind. “This is the price for Putin’s trail of death and destruction.” The EU’s punitive measures against Russia are the harshest sanctions the world has ever seen.
She also said that Europe has stood by Ukraine since day one and will continue to do so in the long term. The country was helped with weapons, financial support and the admission of refugees. “So far, Team Europe has provided financial aid of more than 19 billion euros,” said von der Leyen. This does not include military support.
To relieve consumers in the EU, von der Leyen announced a new legislative proposal against high energy prices, which would affect producers of renewable electricity as well as gas and oil companies. “Our proposal will bring more than 140 billion euros for the member states to cushion the emergency immediately,” said von der Leyen.
According to von der Leyen, the proposed law stipulates that excessive profits from many electricity producers should be distributed to consumers in order to relieve them of the high costs. The price of electricity is currently being driven by the high price of gas, and producers of cheaper electricity – such as from the sun, wind, nuclear power or coal – can also sell it at the high prices. Companies that do not produce electricity from gas should give away part of these profits. According to a draft, revenue from 180 euros per megawatt hour should go to the state. Relief measures should be financed from this money. The federal government has supported similar measures.
According to von der Leyen, gas and oil companies should also make their contribution through a crisis levy. According to the draft, they should pay a solidarity levy of 33 percent on profits for the current year, which were 20 percent above the average for the past three years.
Von der Leyen also announced measures to reduce the power consumption of the EU countries as a whole. According to the draft, power consumption at peak times should be reduced by at least five percent. The EU countries should create incentives for this.
Last Friday, the EU energy ministers also called on the Commission to submit proposals for a price cap for gas and for liquidity support for energy suppliers. Von der Leyen announced that measures will be developed that take into account the specifics of relationships with suppliers. On the second point, she said that the state aid framework would be changed in October to allow for guarantees. Work is also being done on a long-term reform of the electricity market.
The ministers will meet again in Brussels on September 30th to then decide on the legislative proposals of the EU Commission.
The State of the Union address is given by the President of the European Commission every September. It is based on the American State of the Union address, which is considered one of the most important speeches by the American President.