Economic Recovery, Digital Strategy and Green Deal as the most pressing challenges

13 Sep 2021

On 15 September, the debate on the State of the European Union (SOTEU) will take place in Strasbourg. It will be one of the most challenging in history since the pandemic still severely affects far-reaching governance areas such as economic recovery, immigration flows, or unemployment. President von der Leyen’s priorities have not changed since last year. For this reason, the drive of the Commission is to continue to focus its efforts on six areas of work:

  • A Europe fit for the digital age. The policy area where the most important regulatory efforts are still to be made is the one related to digitalisation. European institutions have made an effort to foster competitive digitization during the last year. However, President von der Leyen must present a more ambitious roadmap in order to boost the Digital Markets Act, the Digital Services Act and the European Industrial Strategy. It is essential to ensure a safe and accountable online environment for all European citizens as well as establishing a set of new rules that allow online platforms to remain competitive.
  • A European Green Deal. To overcome the challenges linked to climate change and environmental degradation, the European Commission will focus its work program in proving cleaner energy and cutting-edge clean technological innovation, future-proof jobs and skills training for the transition, and longer lasting products that can be repaired, recycled and re-used.
  • An economy that works for people. Economic recovery is one of the von der Leyen Commission’s most urgent priorities. In the short term, the largest stimulus package ever approved by the European institutions -NextGenerationEU- pretends to rebuild a post-COVID-19 Europe. In the medium term, the Commission will focus its efforts on deepening the Economic and Monetary Union and the fight against youth unemployment.
  • A stronger Europe in the world. Due to Brexit, China’s rise and the situation in Afghanistan, the EU faces the challenge of strengthening its international diplomacy. Besides, it is crucial to promote a truly effective response to migratory flows. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum, promoted by the Commission during 2020, has not addressed the challenge of the massive arrival of those in need of protection and has been promoting political cleavages between the European institutions, NGOs and Member States.
  • Promoting our European way of life. One of the most prominent challenges for the Commission will be to promote regulatory reforms that focus on the protection of fundamental rights, as well as overcoming the lack of trust among the Member States. The authoritarian drift of some EU countries seriously jeopardizes advances so far consolidated over time, such as those linked to LGTBI or women’s rights.
  • A new boost to European democracy. Disinformation and fake news are an urgent matter that von der Leyen’s teamwork has been facing since the appointment of the new Commission in 2019. In addition to combating interference in elections, it will remain as a priority for the Commission to combat vaccines-related misinformation, especially in those countries where the percentage of vaccinated citizens is lower than the European average.

Manuela Sánchez

Senior Public Affairs Consultant

Senior Consultant in the area of Public Affairs at LLYC. She is currently a PhD candidate in International Law. She holds a degree in Law and Political Science from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and the Université Libre de Bruxelles and a Master’s degree in Politics and Democracy. She is a specialist in Regulatory Analysis, International Law and Institutional Relations.