On 14 September, President of The European Commission Ursula von der Leyen addressed the members of the European Parliament at the annual, high-profile State of the European Union (SOTEU) debate.
While SOTEU is held every September, following the summer recess, to provide a platform for MEPs to engage with the Commission, evaluate its performance in the past year and its future directions, the 2022 occasion is considered extraordinary by many, as the EU faced significant challenges last year, and it is set to face an equally challenging future.
Indeed, these challenges were the key topics of von der Leyen’s yearly address which, as in very year, contained important announcements that will likely define the following years. The address focused heavily on the Russian-Ukrainian war, the expressions of solidarity towards Ukraine, and the commitment towards democracy in the EU. Related to the conflict, the importance of reducing the energy dependency of the Union was highlighted. Connected to this, von der Leyen emphasized the significance of the energy transition, within the frame of programmes such as REPower EU and the European Green Deal. An important announcement was made related to energy transition: the foundation of the European Hydrogen Bank, a 3 billion Euro investment that aims to ensure the creation of a European hydrogen market. In addition to energy issues, she pointed out the threat of democratic backsliding within the EU but also expressed ambitions towards expanding the union.
Ursula von der Leyen’s entire speech can be read here.