- President Von der Leyen has personally invested in developing the European Green Deal as the cornerstone of her College’s mandate, keeping Europe united in the face of extraordinary challenges.
- Faced with increasing political pushback, Von der Leyen can protect her legacy and her credibility as European leader by presenting a refreshed vision for Europe’s green transition.
- Several political decisions over the next year can make a difference in how the European Green Deal is implemented and ultimately, how it benefits European people and businesses.
On September 13th, European Commission’s President Von der Leyen will give her last “State of the European Union” speech to the European Parliament before the European elections in June 2024.
Over the past four years, Von der Leyen has invested personally in developing the European Green Deal as the cornerstone of her College’s mandate. It has served as a guiding and uniting force for facing the COVID-19 pandemic, raising the EU’s geopolitical profile, and boosting energy security following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A lot is riding on this moment. The speech and the reactions it will trigger will shape Von der Leyen’s legacy as president of the 2019-2024 European Commission; the priorities for the last year of this Commission; as well as lead the way for her potential campaign for another term.
Increasing pushback from her own political family threatens division, just as the European Green Deal needs to deliver on the ground across Europe. For Von der Leyen to both protect her legacy and her credibility as European leader, she will need to present a renewed vision for Europe’s green transition able to bridge political divides against climate change and drive further action.
State of the European green transition
- The European Green Deal is the world’s first whole-of-economy decarbonisation framework and has already put the EU on an irreversible pathway away from fossil fuels. The full legislative framework is nearing completion and is on the verge of delivery across Europe.
- Ultimately, the success of the European Green Deal will depend on how it benefits European citizens and businesses. Several initiatives over the next year could make a real difference in how it is implemented on the ground, and how much support it musters. Its sustained delivery over time will require additional action over the following years, notably to tackle constraints on grids, labour and skills shortages, high energy and material costs, and limited financing threatening the current clean energy boom.
- Beyond the domestic level, the European Green Deal will also have to bring on board international partners. So far, the potential of the European Green Deal to build a reputation for the Union as a reliable and engaged partner for third countries has underperformed. The next years will be a stress test to develop a Global Gateway into a real catalyser for decarbonisation and transformation globally. In the shorter term, the spotlight will be on the EU’s ability to secure a phase-out of fossil fuels and strong renewable energy and energy efficiency global goals at COP28.
- European climate politics are at a crossroads. Rising concerns on energy security, competitiveness, climate preparedness, inequalities and geopolitics simultaneously fuel and put to the test European climate action. How these challenges are addressed could mark the point of departure for a refreshed strategic vision for the EU’s climate transition.
What we will be looking at
First, will the State of the European Union speech offer a refreshed vision for the green transition which unites the EU?
Second, will Von der Leyen find a way to reconcile the necessity of continued climate action with calls for a regulatory pause?
Finally, what is Von der Leyen’s perception of the remaining challenges to the green transition and priorities for this mandate and beyond?
Manon Dufour, E3G Brussels Director, said:
“The State of the European Union speech and the reactions it will trigger will not only shape Von der Leyen’s own legacy as president of the 2019-2024 European Commission, but also that of her flagship initiative: the European Green Deal.”
Elisa Giannelli, Programme Lead EU Politics and Governance, said:
“The benchmark for success of the SOTEU this week will be on whether Von der Leyen will successfully manage to present a renewed vision for Europe’s green transition able to bridge political divides against climate change and drive further action”
Available for comment
Notes to Editors
- E3G is an independent climate change think tank with a global outlook. We work on the frontier of the climate landscape, tackling the barriers and advancing the solutions to a safe climate. Our goal is to translate climate politics, economics and policies into action. About – E3G
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