‘Pleasantly surprised by Von der Leyen’s speech’
Political parties in The Hague also listened attentively to the speech of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Opinions differ. Laurens Dassen (Volt) found the speech lacking in concreteness, while Derk Jan Eppink (BBB) was pleasantly surprised.
This mainly had to do with the appreciation that Von der Leyen expressed towards the farmers. Eppink sees this as a response to the results of the Dutch Provincial Council elections last March, where BBB became the largest. “We have also seen this abroad,” he says. ‘Other countries do not want to make the same mistakes as the Netherlands, they want to appreciate the farmers.’
Dassen felt that the speech consisted of a lot of dialogue, research and pats on the back, but that little was made clear about the approach to certain themes, such as climate, defense and social security.
Von der Leyen was very critical of China in her speech. She wants to investigate whether China is encouraging the sale of Chinese electric cars in Europe with subsidies, which would disrupt the market. According to Dassen, this reveals that Europe took action too late in terms of sustainability. ‘China has been working on this for some time and we in Europe have put on the brakes for too long when it comes to that sustainable transition. We are now paying the price for that.’
Also read | Car manufacturers not happy with Von der Leyen’s approach to the Chinese electric car industry
Eppink expects that countries in the EU with a large car industry will not be happy if the union ultimately takes measures against China, because they export products to China and may then expect countermeasures.
Von der Leyen also mentioned the expansion of the European Union in her speech. This includes the accession of a number of Balkan countries and Ukraine. “We are absolutely in favor of that,” said Dassen. Although here too he lacks concreteness. ‘Reforms are needed to ensure that the EU can remain decisive during enlargement. We therefore want to get rid of the Member States’ right of veto. But that wasn’t the case today and I think that’s a shame.’
According to Eppink, it depends on which country it concerns whether BBB is for or against an expansion of the EU. He emphasizes that it is important that the EU adheres to the treaties and procedures upon expansion.
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