EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the European Union speech was a mixed bag from a business perspective. “Several question marks remain over whether she can deliver policies that make the EU a centre for innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Anna Stellinger, Head of International and EU Affairs at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
The Commission President traditionally gives the State of the European Union speech in the EU Parliament in Strasbourg in September each year.
This year, von der Leyen started by highlighting what the Commission had achieved since taking office in 2019. This included climate policy in the EU, the bloc’s Covid response, and how EU countries have succeeded in presenting a united front towards Russia. A new Commission will be appointed next year.
“We saw a strong and confident von der Leyen, who is widely tipped to win a second term as Commission president,” says Stellinger, in a statement.
In her speech, von der Leyen promised measures against China and continued support for European industry.
“Global markets are flooded with cheaper Chinese electric cars, whose prices were kept artificially low by huge state subsidies. This distorts our market,” she told Parliament, promising a formal review of Chinese state aid to the country’s electric car manufacturing.
The green transition formed a large part of the speech, and focused on energy, biodiversity and food security.
Von der Leyen also announced that the Commission will make major investments in wind power, (through the European Wind Power package), which will include fast-track permit processes, greater access to financing, and measures to strengthen supply chains.
Focusing on strengthening competitiveness
Stellinger says von der Leyen’s speech amounted to a mixed bag for business:
“We welcome her focus on strengthening competitiveness and supporting business, but several question marks remain as to whether she can deliver policies that make the EU the centre of innovation and entrepreneurship she wants when so much focus is on governance and support for specific technologies and production, rather than free competition and trade in a deepened single market,” Stellinger says.EU