Investments for the green transition, without austerity measures for European citizens - the priority of the candidates for the EC presidency

George Marinescu
English Section / 24 mai

Photo source:

Photo source:

Versiunea în limba română

The continuation of investments for the implementation of the Green Deal, the acceleration of allocations to support citizens and raise the standard of living, finding common sources of financing for the development of the defense industry, but also the permanent dialogue with the business environment and with farmers regarding the achievement of the targets set for climate neutrality in the year 2050, must constitute the priorities of the future president of the European Commission, declared the candidates for the position of head of the Community Executive, during the debate organized yesterday by Eurovision in the hemicycle of the European Parliament.

Regarding the continuation of investments for the implementation of the Green Deal and the acceleration of allocations to increase the standard of living of European citizens, the current president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, spitzenkandidaten from the EPP, recalled that during her mandate the minimum wage was introduced at at the European level, significant sums have been allocated for housing renovation and for the construction of social housing and that it has built the legislative framework to achieve climate neutrality in 2050.

Ursula von der Leyen said: "We are now in the implementation of the Green Deal and we are in dialogue with farmers and industry to achieve the targets in this roadmap. Farmers want climate neutrality, because they know they are securing their production through nature, but they need to move from conditionalities to incentives, from over-reporting to modern technologies such as satellites and drones to control what is needed . It is the same in industry, where we are already global leaders in clean technologies. I'll give you just one example: in the last year we've sold more wind power than natural gas, and emissions have dropped significantly. This investment policy will continue, because 48% of the euro800 billion in the NextGen EU program is used for clean energy and circular economy projects".

Nicholas Schmit, the candidate of the Party of European Socialists for the position of president of the European Commission, stated that his objective is to lift 50 million European citizens out of poverty by offering well-paid jobs.

He stated: "Citizens must be at the center of our policies. The right climate policies can bring a new kind of sustainable growth, but their implementation comes at a high cost, and therefore it is necessary to mobilize very large resources and investments to decarbonize agriculture and industry. We have to see how we can mobilize these resources, so that the respective policies are bearable for the economy and for the households".

Related to these topics, Sandro Gozi, the candidate for Renew Europe proposed a change to the European budget aimed at an increase in allocations for the cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy, while Terry Reintke, a candidate from the European Greens political group stated : "For an economic success, we must break the contradiction between the climate and the economy, put pressure to benefit from the opportunities in the green economy. We need to invest in green jobs, common infrastructure in Europe and the green transition. We need a pact with the industry, (...); we need to reform agricultural policies in the European Union to ensure the sustainability of farmers and it is necessary to distribute the subsidies granted differently. Massive investments are needed for this change (...). If we don't make the necessary investments now, it will be much more expensive in the future."

Walter Baier, the candidate of the European Left, also agreed with the need to transform the economy into a green, ecological one, but mentioned that the respective investments should not be made at the expense of the citizens' standard of living, by imposing austerity measures, but through the abandonment by the European Commission of various programs aimed at common armament and defense. He pointed out: "The most urgent threat to security is the ecological crisis, but the Commission is allocating sums for common defence, while NATO spends 1.3 trillion euros on defence, which is three times more than Russia and China combined, and European NATO countries together spend twice as much on defense as Russia. I think that is enough, we need peace and stability in Europe".

Common defense, a controversial topic

Regarding the intentions of the current European Commission regarding the creation of a fund for common defense, for joint purchases of equipment and military equipment, for the financing of joint projects in the defense industry, Ursula von der Leyen stated that she wants to stop the existing fragmentation in the EU at the moment, that a European defense shield is needed to provide protection for all member states and that the states will decide whether the defense fund will be fed from national sources or other sources of funding will be sought, such as be the issuance of new European bonds.

Socialist candidate Nicolas Schmit said that investment is needed in the defense industry, but this does not mean that those investments will be made at the expense of social cohesion.

Sandro Gozi, from Renew Europe, showed that in the current conditions in which Putin continues the aggression in Ukraine, investments are needed to ensure European security, but he mentioned that for every euro invested in defense, one euro must also be invested in culture and education. He declared himself disappointed by the fact that President von der Leyen failed in her mandate to implement this defense fund, which in Gozi's opinion can be fueled by issuing European bonds.

Instead, Terry Reintke, the candidate of the Greens, said: "We have to collaborate to have joint purchases. The question is no longer whether we can defend ourselves or not, but the question is whether we spend people's money efficiently; that is why we need a European defense fund. But for this we need to finish with the unanimous vote on the defense policy in the European Council, to stop giving Victor Orban the right of veto on this topic and others like it".

Ursula von der Leyen does not rule out a collaboration with the political formations around Giorgia Meloni

Opponents of Ursula von der Leyen accused her of saying in the previous debate on April 29, 2024, which took place in Maastricht, that she did not rule out collaborating with certain far-right, conservative or sovereign parliamentarians. The four counter-candidates stated at yesterday's debate that such collaboration violates the principles of the EU and the rule of law.

Nicholas Schmit stated that the European Socialists will not work with the groups Identity and Democracy (ID) and European Conservatives and Reformers (ECR), and said that if the EPP concludes a collaboration agreement with these political groups, the PSE will not provide support European peoples in the future Parliament. Walter Baier stated that there cannot be a political compromise with the far right in the European Parliament, Sandro Gozi said that Renew Europe will not ally with ID and ECR, and Terry Reintke argued that a collaboration with the far right is detrimental to European security .

Against all these statements, Ursula von der Leyen, the EPP candidate for the position of president of the European Commission, said: "After the European Parliament elections, we will work with pro-European, pro-Ukrainian and pro-rule of law political groups. All far-right groups are friends of Putin and have one thing in common: they want to destroy Europe and we will not allow it. I worked very well in the European Council with the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and I can tell you that she is pro-European and she made her opinion about Putin very clear when Italy supported financial support for Ukraine. We need a majority in Europe for things to move forward in a strong Union".