Foreign Policy Digital

Ursula von der Leyen’s Big Promises for Europe

A transcript of the nominee’s remarks at the European Parliament plenary session.

On Tuesday, Ursula von der Leyen, who has been nominated to lead the European Commission, set out her plans for the European Union in remarks to the European Parliament. Promising a “Green Deal for Europe,” more equal representation of women, and an extension of the Brexit timetable if needed, she won both applause and, at times, boos. Later today, she’ll face a vote of EU parliamentarians, who will decide whether to let her take the union’s top post.

A transcript of her remarks is below.

Mr. President, honorable members, exactly 40 years ago, Simone Veil was elected as the first female president of the European Parliament and set out her vision for a fairer and more united Europe. It is thanks to her, and to all the other European icons, that I am presenting my vision of Europe to you today.

And 40 years later, I can say with great pride that we finally have a female candidate for European Commission president. I am that candidate thanks to all the men and women who have broken down barriers and defied convention. I am that candidate thanks to all the men and women who built a Europe of peace, a united Europe, a Europe of values.

It is this belief in Europe that has guided me throughout my life and my career—as a mother, as a doctor, and as a politician. It is the courage and daring of pioneers such as Simone Veil that are at the heart of my vision for Europe.

And it is my intention to lead the European Commission in that same spirit.

Mr. President, honorable members, the founding fathers and mothers of Europe created something powerful out of the rubble and ashes of the world wars. Peace. A strong common market, borderless trade, travel, research, and jobs.

Today, 500 million Europeans live in freedom and prosperity, from Riga to Limassol, and from Athens to Lisbon. My children’s generation cannot conceive of a life without this sense of Europe as their home.

When this fortunate generation was born, we, the older generation, thought that it would always be so. Yet it is now

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