Von der Leyen expected to focus on economic recovery, rule of law and geopolitical challenges in State of the Union speech

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A big day ahead tomorrow for the European Union as Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will deliver her State of the European Union address to the European Parliament, followed by a debate with MEPs.

The hot topics on the President’s list are quite a few, with the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downfall expectedly high on the MEPs are expecting von der Leyen to not only outline the impact of the Commission’s work in the past year, but to also share with MEPs her vision for responding to the challenges the EU faces, including the economic recovery, the fight against climate change, the digitalisation agenda and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The State of the European Union debate is a key moment to demonstrate the European Commission’s accountability towards the EU’s democratically elected representatives. This annual event is significant to promote a more transparent and democratic Union. It is an opportunity to bring the European Union closer to the citizens, highlighting the year’s core action points and challenges. The Office of the European Parliament in Malta told this newsroom that the State of the European Union debate is an opportunity for MEPs to relay citizens’ concerns to the head of the European executive – citizens’ rights and the democratic process are at the heart of this unique plenary debate, in which MEPs assess the work accomplished by the Commission in the preceding twelve months and discuss future challenges.

Von der Leyen is also expected to is expected to reaffirm the Commission’s political goal of using research and innovation as well as large chunks of EU funding to green and digitise the economy. On this issue, a Flash Eurobarometer published Monday shows that action against climate change is the key priority for European citizens overtaking public health, and topping also migration in Malta

Two other important topics which MEPs will expect to be informed concern the EU’s strategic autonomy and geopolitical challenges, particularly following the recent chaotic scenes in Afghanistan. With regards to the situation ‘at home’, the President is likely to tackle the thorny issue of the Rule of Law in the bloc, amid an open confrontation on the issue against the Hungarian and the Polish governments.