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Ursula von der Leyen promises green new deal for Europe ahead of vote on her nomination for Commission President

Tuesday, 16 July, 2019 - 12:40

Ursula von der Leyen, the centre-right nominee for president of the European Commission, has promised MEPs that climate change will be one of the top priorities of her term if elected. Speaking to the European Parliament ahead of its vote on her nomination to become the Commission’s first female president, the German Christian Democrat also promised to make tech giants pay more in taxes. 

“Our most pressing challenge is keeping our planet healthy,” von der Leyen, 60, said during a speech in which she switched between English, German and French. “This is the greatest responsibility and opportunity of our times. I want Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050, she said, committing to tabling a Green New Deal in her first 100 days in office. “I will promote the first European law that will translate the targets of reductions for 2050 into concrete laws and large-scale investments,” she said.

To help finance the transition, von der Leyen vowed to turn parts of the European Investment Bank into a “Climate Bank” in a bid to unlock 1 trillion euros of investment over the coming decade.

Von der Leyen, who was named as Germany’s defence minister by Angela Merkel in 2013, said that if appointed Commission President she will make tech giants pay their more in taxes.

“I will stand for fair taxes – whether for brick and mortar industries or digital businesses. When the tech giants are making huge profits in Europe, this is fine because we are an open market and we like competition. But if they are making these profits by benefiting from our education system, our skilled workers, our infrastructure and our social security, if this is so, it is not acceptable that they make profits, but they are barely paying any taxes because they play our tax system. If they want to benefit, they have to share the burden,” she said.

Von Der Leyen marked a departure from the position of the current Commission with regards to Brexit by stating that she would be open to another extension to the deadline for the UK to leave the EU “if more time was needed, for a good reason”

The vote on von der Leyen’s nomination will start in Strasbourg at 6 pm this evening, with the result to be announced 7.30 pm.


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