13 Sep 2023
Commission President von der Leyen gives State of the Union speech
On 13 September 2023, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen gave her State of the Union (SOTEU) speech, her last SOTEU before the next European Parliament elections in June 2024.
Claiming that the EC had delivered over 90% of the Political Guidelines the President hat presented in 2019, the addressed many issues, a number of them with relevance to research and innovation . These included the following:
- the next phase of the European Green Deal, where industry should receive support. This includes amongst others, a series of "Clean Transition Dialogues" with industry, a European Wind Power Package, and a continued focus on skills. The President also addressed the issue of China (an EU-China summit is due to take place still this year).
- Competitiveness, where labour and skills shortages present a major challenge, as does persisting high inflation. The President highlighted the importance of European sovereignty and announced a "Social Partner Summit" under the upcoming Belgian Council Presidency in 2024. Amongst others, she has engaged Mario Draghi to prepare a resport on the future of European competitiveness.
- Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence: President von der Leyen sees Europe in a leading role in managing the risks of digitalisation, and as the "global pioneer of citizen's rights in the digital world". Therefore the Commission is planning a "new global framework for AI", based on three pillars: guardrails, governance, and guiding innovation (in the context of the latter, Ms von der Leyen announced "a new initiative to open up our high-performance computers to AI start-ups to train their models").
- In the global context including migration and security, the Commission President highlighted the "Team Europe Approach" and the "Global Gateway". A new strategic approach towards Africa is envisaged.
- With regard to Ukraine, the President repeated: "We will be at Ukraine's side every step of the way. For as long as it takes.”
- The President also addressed enlargement, stating "I believe that Team Europe also works at 30+”.
- With regard to the EU-Budget, Ms von der Leyen said: “We need to discuss the future of our budget — in terms of what it finances, how it finances it, and how it is financed.”