A Union that strives for more: the first 100 days

ursula von der leyen_

Ursula von der Leyen. Co-operators: Photographer: Etienne Ansotte European Union, 2020 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service.

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

The new Commission led by President Ursula von der Leyen took office on 1 December 2019. Within its first 100 days, the Commission focused on delivering its most important priorities set in the President’s political guidelines.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “The story of our first 100 days is about tackling the twin transition that Europe is facing. It is about turning the fight against climate change into an opportunity for jobs and growth. Reaping the benefits of technology and making it work for people. And about strengthening the EU’s geopolitical clout. We have made a good start in these first 100 days. We will work hard every single day to deliver a good future for the next generations of Europeans.”

Becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050

As early as day 11, the Commission presented a European Green Deal, a roadmap to stop climate change, cut pollution and protect biodiversity. The European Green Deal is the EU’s new growth strategy, which will help transform the economy.

The heart of the European Green Deal is the European Climate Law. It enshrines the 2050 climate neutrality target into law, with a mechanism to keep everybody on track. It is a strong signal of the Commission’s commitment to leadership on climate.

It also presented a European Green Deal Investment Plan, which should generate €1 trillion of investments to support a green and modern EU economy.

The Commission also kick-started work on a carbon border adjustment mechanism, to ensure a level playing field globally and fairer conditions for EU companies participating to the climate effort.

To cushion the effects of the transition and support the workers and communities that still rely heavily on carbon intensive industries, the Commission also proposed a Just Transition Mechanism, which should mobilise at least €100 billion. It includes the Just Transition Fund, which will invest €7.5 billion from the EU budget in the regions most affected by the industrial transition.

The Commission also started greening its economic policies and provided a compass to the financial sector for more sustainable investments.

Next steps

  •   To protect nature and curb biodiversity loss, the Commission will soon present a biodiversity strategy.
  •   The Commission will propose a Circular Economy Action plan, setting out actions along the entire life cycle of products.
  •   The upcoming Farm to Fork strategy will support farmers and ensure sustainability along the agrifood value chain.

Shaping Europe’s digital future

The digital transformation should power our economy and empower our citizens.

The Commission’s strategy for Shaping Europe’s Digital Future covers everything from cybersecurity to digital education, from platforms to supercomputing. It aims to help everyone seize the opportunities brought by technological change, within safe and ethical boundaries.

It sets the path for developing cutting-edge yet trustworthy Artificial Intelligence in the EU, with proposals to come by the end of the year. It also lays out a Data Strategy to tap fully into the potential of data, for the benefit of people and businesses.

The Commission and the Member States have defined a common approach to ensure the security of 5G networks in the EU. They endorsed a set of mitigating measures, both objective and proportionate, against known security risks.

Next steps

  •   A Digital Services Act, by the end of the year, will bring clearer responsibilities and modernised rules for online platforms.
  •   New rules on Artificial Intelligence that respect human safety and rights.
  •   A common standard for online digital identity for people and businesses.
  •   New rules on cybersecurity of critical infrastructure and services.

The Commission will present a new industrial strategy on its 101st day. It will translate its climate, digital and geo-economic ambitions into concrete actions for the competitiveness of the EU’s industry, in particular that of its small and medium sized enterprises.

Making Europe stronger in the world

The von der Leyen Commission is taking the lead to fight climate change globally, leading by example through the European Green Deal, engaging in climate diplomacy and supporting the efforts of its partners, for instance in Africa.

It is also promoting the European approach to the digital economy, based on values. It is setting global standards – for instance on data protection, through the General Data Protection Regulation, and by advocating free flow of industrial data.

The first 100 days showed that the Commission was willing to be:

  •   A reliable neighbour: After a deadly earthquake struck Albania in November 2019, the Commission hosted a Donors’ Conference, with pledges amounting to €1.15 billion for reconstruction. The Commission also proposed to revive the EU enlargement process, making it more predictable and subject to stronger political steer.
  •   A supporter of multilateral and rules-based world order: the Commission supported the interim appeal arbitration arrangement in the World Trade Organisation. It underlined that an independent and impartial appeal stage, giving the necessary guarantees of rulings of the highest quality, must continue to be one of the essential features of the WTO dispute settlement system.
  •   A natural partner to Africa: As her first trip abroad, President von der Leyen chose Ethiopia. She returned for the College-to-College meeting with the African Union, joined by 21 commissioners, to discuss a new positive agenda with Africa ranging from climate change to digitalisation, jobs and skills to migration.

Next steps

  •   The Commission remains committed to opening accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.
  •   Engagement with the Western Balkans will be a priority for the rest of the mandate.
  •   The Commission will soon adopt an EU Strategy with Africa, setting out a new partnership covering jobs, migration, mobility, peace and digital transition.

In its first 100 days in office, the Commission has worked onall fronts tackle the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. It coordinates exchanges of information among Member States on preparedness and health measures. It assesses the macro-economic impacts of the spread of the virus and the impacts on most affected sectors, as well as coordinating border measures and mobility. It announced a €232 million investment to boost global preparedness, treatment and research for vaccine development.

Following recent developments, the Commission is working closely with Frontex on providing operational support to Greece for border management. It has also mobilised further financial support for migration management.

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