In her first State of the Union speech to the European Parliament, the President of the European Commission faced the problem of having her declaration of vision and purpose dominated by the corona virus pandemic but she managed to find the right balance between firefighting and articulating a longterm mission.
In a statement to the plenary of the European Parliament, I said that Ursula Von der Leyen’s proposals to bolster the public health component of the EU’s profile were constructive and down to earth. She presented her vision for a Europe that emerges stronger from the pandemic.
On the other hand there was little new where the main horizons of EU policy are concerned especially the Green Deal, though affirming them again as she intelligently did makes sense.
However, the commitment expressed to make Qualified Majority Voting operational in more areas of EU activity actually underlines a basic aspect of the state of the union today that she failed to address.
I believe that the locus of decision-making within the institutions has shifted again towards the Council. Both the Commission and the Parliament make bold proposals, then go into wait-and-see mode while member states palaver about the issues.
Regarding this, the President did not seem to have anything better than a band-aid solution when what is needed is an institutional revamp that addresses adequately the political and social realities.
Alfred Sant is a Partit Laburista MEP and rapporteur for the S&D Group.