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 Full text 
Wednesday, 27 November 2019 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

Presentation by the Commission President-elect of the College of Commissioners and their programme (debate)

  Ska Keller, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, dear Commissioner candidates, you are running today for leading the European Union: a Union that started out as a project of peace, of democracy, of human rights – a fantastic project. Whereas, right now, if we look around us, thousands of people are drowning at our borders. More than five women get killed by their partners every day. And a Union where some of the Member States are turning away from these basic values of democracy, of rule of law and of freedom that so many of the European citizens have fought so hard for. A Union that risks to fail in the face of the climate crisis, thereby risking the livelihood of the younger generation and future generations.

But it’s also a Union with a great potential to be the front-runner for climate protection, to be the place of innovation and for visionaries; the continent that would stand up for its values and for human rights, be it at home or in the world. So today, the question is: will the new Commission, will you be ready to fulfil those potentials? Will you be able to meet the challenges of the environmental, social and democratic crisis that we do have in Europe right now? This will take courage. It will take conviction. During the hearings we’ve heard conviction in some of you, but not in all of you, and not on all topics. How, for example, is the Commission going to deliver an ambitious climate-protection programme if there is no will to change the agricultural and the trade policy? I can tell you that this is not going to work. Green headlines are just not enough. We need ambitious content. We need an ambitious agenda, and without a deep reform of the agricultural policy and of the trade agenda, any climate policy must remain half-hearted. And we just don’t have the time for that.


Let me point out some other problems as well. It is an unprecedented situation that the boss of one of the biggest IT companies in Europe will be a Commissioner for the internal market, including the digital economy, and thus overseeing the area his former company is one of the biggest players in. We acknowledge and we appreciate even the steps that Mr Breton has committed himself to undertaking in order to minimise the conflict of interest, but we do think that the conflict of interest here is inherent in his portfolio, and he didn’t have a voice over that. But we do think that this is a big, big problem and that the digital market should have been removed from his portfolio. And as Greens, we cannot accept this sort of conflict of interest, which risks our reputation as EU institutions.

Another big problem lies, unfortunately, with our Commissioner from Hungary, sent to us with best regards from Mr Orbán. How can somebody who represents a government that is constantly undermining and breaking EU law and values, how can someone like that be telling countries that want to join the European Union that they absolutely have to follow rule of law and European law? That is cynical.


I believe that hardly anything embodies the European spirit as much as our integration policy. The idea that countries are willing and eager to join the European Union, to join our common union built on peace, democracy and freedom: that is the flame burning for us in Europe. And what are we telling those countries that are right now willing to change their policies, even their name? We’re telling them that they’re not important, that their voice doesn’t matter, that their aspirations don’t matter. I think we have made enough mistakes in that area recently. Let’s not add another.


President von der Leyen, we have raised those issues continuously. This is nothing new to you, but it’s really for those reasons that we cannot support your Commission. But we are willing to work with the Commission in order to strengthen European democracy and human rights; in order to tackle the climate crisis and to foster European integration. Whenever you and your college take initiatives in that regard, we are more than eager to cooperate with you, to work together with you. You will find in us a constructive partner, but rest assured that we will also be critical if you don’t. You can count on that.

Colleagues, it is time for us to act: climate cannot wait, social inequality cannot wait to be resolved. And we hope that this Commission will surprise us in many positive ways, and we’re willing to give you a head start in that as well. Thank you very much. Good luck.

Last updated: 27 January 2020Legal notice