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By Aurora Ceccotti
In December 2019 Ursula von der Leyen has been unanimously chosen to lead the European Commission. Under the first woman to lead the European Commission, the latter will focus on enhancing gender equality, tackling climate change and augmenting the European Union’s geopolitical role.
Her previous role as defence minister in Germany seems to influence her approach as the appointee in the European commission, planning to invest 30% more in external action and a further 30% investment in development funding and humanitarian aid.
Furthermore, the role of NATO is considered to be beneficial if complemented to the autonomy of the EU defence system, which would stem from further spending on the latter. Several measures have been implemented to increment the geopolitical role of the EU. The High Representative has now a more prominent role, chairing the Commissioners Group “A Stronger Europe in the World” and a new collegial preparatory body called “The Group for External Coordination”, hence being able to supervise the Commissioners Project Groups and Interservice Groups. This is deemed to increase homogeneity and strategy of the European Union’s external action.
The High Representative will also work closely with the Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement to expand the European external influence, especially in the Western Balkans. Von der Leyen furtherly stressed the importance of external action promising that the latter will be weekly discussed within the College.
As far as concerns gender equality, in order to create a more gender-balanced environment, she selected 12 women out of 27 as EU commissioners and proposed to enhance the ratio of women to 50% in all Cabinets at an administrative level. Furthermore, a “European Green Deal’ is planned to be established, which aims at removing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Investment in green technologies, innovation, research, sustainable solutions, and innovation is in fact considered to have great potential to boost economic growth.
- How will the enhancement of the EU defence systems factor in the legitimacy crisis of NATO?
- Will the Multiannual Financial Framework presented by Von der Leyen’s Commission bring the expected progresses in the green industry despite rising energetic demand among EU-27 countries?