Despite the acute crises surrounding the migrants at the turkish border and the coronavirus epidemic, EU commission head ursula von der leyen has drawn a positive balance of her first 100 days in office.
"The course of our journey has fundamentally changed," von der leyen said in brussel on monday. She referred in particular to her "green deal" for a climate-neutral europe by 2050, which has now also been accepted by the eu states.
At the same time, the former german defense minister conceded that the issues would be very difficult when she took office on 1 january. December was completely different from today. "Today we are in the midst of a deep dilemma," the CDU politician said, referring to the greek-turkish border, where thousands of refugees and migrants are hoping to gain entry to the european union.
Border protection is essential, and both greece and turkey need help, von der leyen said. At the same time, excessive use of force had to be avoided and fundamental rights had to be secured, including the right to apply for asylum in the EU. This was the first time von der leyen clearly distanced herself from greece’s decision to suspend the right of asylum for a month. She also announced a new proposal on european asylum law for "immediately after easter".
Von der leyen does not expect a quick solution to the dispute with turkey over the 2016 refugee agreement. A meeting with the turkish president recep tayyip erdogan scheduled for monday evening was only the beginning of a dialogue.
In the crisis surrounding the coronavirus epidemic in europe, von der leyen held out the prospect of economic aid. There are two basic options: one is flexibility in the debt and deficit rules. "The other is money," she said. At the EU level, the issue is also about exceptions to state aid rules.
The EU commission is in close contact with the EU member states and the european central bank about the issue. She is preparing for the meeting of EU finance ministers next week. Von der leyen left open the question of what the scope of an aid package could be.
She called on EU countries to quickly agree on the next budget framework for the years 2021 to 2027 to ensure financial room for maneuver in responding to the crises. People wanted more europe, they wanted more europe to be more actionable. But without a new budget, this will not be possible. "Therefore i urge the member states to find an agreement."At a special summit in brussel at the end of february, the 27 states were unable to reach an agreement.
Green politician sven giegold praised von der leyen’s efforts on the "green deal", but complained that she had so far presented little concrete on the subject. "If it remains a collection of announcements and strategy papers, the green deal will be a crash landing instead of a moon landing," said giegold. In migration policy, von der leyen focuses less on humanitarianism than her predecessor, jean-claude juncker. "Europe must bring humanitarianism and order back into closer harmony," giegold said. The leader of the liberal group in the european parliament, dacian ciolos, made a similar statement. Positive initiatives have been seen in recent months, but much remains to be done to deliver real solutions.