Von der Leyen has failed seven times – and still looks to the next post

Guest article by Gabor Steingart: Von der Leyen failed seven times – and still looks to the next post.

Ursula von der Leyen’s tenure is characterized by backroom deals and mismanagement. The German EU Commission President, by the grace of Macron and Merkel, has failed in seven crucial policy areas. Nevertheless, the CDU politician is already flirting with the next top post.

In the Sunday speeches of politicians, European values ​​are often mentioned. The European idea stands for “the courage to stand by one’s convictions, the fight for values ​​and freedom, the struggle for peace and unity,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently when the Charlemagne Prize was awarded to Ukrainian President Selenskyj .

Democracy is obviously not one of these European values. Because the EU President herself did not emerge from a democratic election, but from a backroom deal between Macron and Merkel:

  • It was not on any ballot paper in the European elections.
  • Nowhere in the election campaign did she show herself to the common people.
  • She was enthroned as ECB President in exchange for the installation of Christine Lagarde.
  • She can neither be confirmed nor voted out in the European elections next year.

Von der Leyen’s tenure marked by mismanagement

Her three-year term of office has been marked by mismanagement and the continued violation of European interests. In order not to bring about the collapse of the static German-French agreement, it should not be discussed if possible.

Chancellor Scholz and opposition leader Merz have de facto concluded a non-aggression pact in European politics. She is an important partner for Scholz and a party friend for Merz. So the sevenfold failure of Ursula von der Leyen remains deliberately unnoticed:

industrial policy problem

The announcement is now followed by the withdrawal. Europe will not enact the Sovereignty Fund it promised in response to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – the US’s $738 billion government reindustrialization program.

The full-bodied announcement was meekly withdrawn yesterday. There was no justification from the President of the Commission. EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn explained that they simply didn’t want to get bogged down: “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Europe looks on idly as our most important ally poaches key industries. Ursula von der Leyen’s political energy on this issue seems to have expired.

budgetary policy problem

While savings have to be made in all nation states, the EU Commission wants to massively expand its budget for the coming years – but not for an industrial effort, but for the poor goal that Brussels can remain as Brussels has always been: cumbersome, bureaucratic, expensive.

Yesterday it demanded an additional 66 billion euros from the 27 member states. The joint financial framework of around 1.1 trillion euros for the years 2021 to 2027 had actually been agreed. But that is no longer enough, it is said now. Migration, Ukraine, climate, what do you say when you want to collect more money.

problem of regulatory policy

The rules for sound fiscal policy are being obscenely disregarded, with the blessing of the EU Commission. In 2022, only nine countries adhered to the criterion that debt may not exceed 60 percent of gross domestic product. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, without consulting his partners, now describes the EU debt limit of 60 percent of a member country’s economic output as “obsolete”. Nobody in Brussels disagrees.

On the contrary, with your support, work is being done to permanently weaken the Maastricht criteria or, even better, to suspend them altogether. Instead of 60 percent debt, highly indebted countries are now fine with 90 percent, as long as it can be credibly conveyed that they are working on reducing the debt.

problem of human rights

In migration policy, European values ​​are not only being violated, they have been systematically ignored for years. Inhumane conditions prevail in overcrowded refugee camps on the coasts of Greece, Spain and Italy. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says: “The conditions on the islands are appalling and shameful at the same time.”

Since Ursula von der Leyen took office in December 2019, over 7,000 people – including 360 children – have drowned off the coasts of Europe. The reception centers now planned at the EU’s external borders are overshadowed by the suspicion that too few facilities with insufficient staffing do not alleviate the humanitarian need, but only illustrate it anew.

problem of climate policy

The EU President does not succeed in agreeing and executing a uniform energy strategy in Europe. In Poland, the Czech Republic and Greece, the main focus is on lignite. In Belgium, Finland and France, nuclear energy is being expanded and not wind and solar.

Only the European model children Sweden, Norway and Iceland consistently trust in renewable energies. Overall, CO2 emissions have decreased since Ursula von der Leyen took office, mainly due to corona, and increased again in the last measured year – from 2020 to 2021.

problem of foreign policy

Neither in Ukraine policy nor towards China does she manage to bundle Europe’s weight in the world. Without the US and Joe Biden, Ukraine would be part of the Russian empire today. Zelenskyi was only able to prevent the rapid advance of the Russian army thanks to the rapid and massive shipments of arms from Washington. The idea of ​​a European defense community did not progress during her tenure.

Problem case of reform backlog

Not a single major institutional reform project was tackled during her term of office. The paralyzing principle of unanimity continues to apply. She also did not respond to the “European regulatory break” demanded by Macron. The only innovation during her term of office is her own European borrowing – which has gained free access to the global capital market in disregard of national budget law.

Conclusion: In a living democracy, a Commission President with this record would presumably not be extended by the people. Perhaps that’s why Ursula von der Leyen is interested in the position of NATO Secretary General that will become vacant in September. The French dramatist Eugène Ionesco guessed it: “Anyone who has become accustomed to the absurd will find their way around in our time.”

Hank Peter

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