17.07.2019 – 16:47
Climate, law, migration: What are von der Leyen's plans for the EU?
Ursula von der Leyen, a veteran German conservative politician, will take over as the next European Commission president in November - one of the European Union's most powerful positions.
Here are her political priorities for the next five years, honed following her surprise nomination two weeks ago:
Europe should become the first "climate-neutral" continent by 2050, she says. To achieve this, the bloc must reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2030, perhaps as much as 55 per cent. She wants to expand the EU's emissions trading system, introduce a carbon border tax (an import levy on goods from non-EU states with less-stringent carbon regimes), and turn parts of the European Investment Bank into a climate investment bank.
Von der Leyen wants a "fresh start" on migration by relaunching long-running efforts to find agreement on the distribution of asylum seekers throughout the EU. She also wants to see European border force Frontex have 10,000 operational staff by 2024 at the latest, sooner than the current aim of 2027.
The centre-right politician wants to push for a "fair" minimum wage allowing "decent living" in every member state. Further aims are to have gender parity among all EU commissioners, a push to set gender quotas on company boards, and to add violence against women to the list of crimes specified in the EU's treaty.
Von der Leyen wants to push for joint European standards governing fields like 5G telecommunication networks, and says she will legislate for a coordinated approach on the ethics of artificial intelligence.
The future president says she will prioritize taxation of major tech firms and fight for a common base corporate tax rate across the whole bloc. She also said she wants to "step up the fight against tax fraud," and strengthen action against non-EU states with "harmful" tax regimes.
RULE OF LAW
She wants to ramp up the EU's rule-of-law oversight mechanisms to include annual reporting on the situation in each of the current 28 member states, with an increased role for the European Parliament in this process. Von der Leyen said she supports moves to link rule of law violations with reduced access to EU funds.
The withdrawal agreement already struck between the EU and Britain is the "best and only possible" deal, the German says - so no going back to the negotiating table. But she could possibly accept a further extension of Britain's EU membership beyond the October 31 deadline, if good reasons are provided.
Von der Leyen wants to give the European Parliament a right to initiate legislation to be picked up by the commission. Once in office, she says she would reopen discussions on the Spitzenkandidat process - the system by which the main political groups put forward their candidate for the commission presidency - between the European Council and parliament. It was the failure of the process this year that led to von der Leyen's surprise nomination. She also wants to hold a "Conference on the Future of Europe", consulting citizens on their view of the union.
The German politician says that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the "backbone" of Europe's economy. She claims she will make life easier for SMEs by completing the capital markets union, a plan to make it simpler to raise funds and to facilitate cross-border investment. Von der Leyen says she is committed to the social market economy.
Von der Leyen has pledged to help deliver the so-called Budgetary Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness in the eurozone, a fund to encourage structural reform to bring the currency bloc into closer economic and monetary alignment. But she has not spelled out any greater ambition for the fledgling eurozone budget. Once in office, she will also seek to press ahead with other reforms aimed at bolstering the eurozone against future crises.
EUROPE IN THE WORLD
Having served as German defence minister, von der Leyen says she wants to see the EU play a "more active role" in world politics and to move towards building a European Defence Union. Von der Leyen wants the EU to spend 30 per cent more on aid and foreign policy activities in its next long-term budget. The next commission president says she strongly supports negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania about accession to the bloc. Another aim is to speed up foreign policy decisions by using majority rather unanimity votes.
[Attention: These images are intended exclusively for editorial use in connection with the current coverage and may be used only when using the copyright notice "Photo: dpa".]