Ursula von der Leyen: We have a lesson. You had to listen to the voices of Poland and the Baltic states

If we show the necessary courage and solidarity, Putin will fail, and Ukraine and Europe will win – said Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission in the European Parliament. She also admitted that “it was necessary to listen to the voices within the European Union, in Poland and the Baltic states” regarding Vladimir Putin.


The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, spoke on Wednesday during the debate on the state of the European Union at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Every year in September, the President of the European Commission comes to the European Parliament to discuss with MEPs the Commission’s activities from the last year and plans for the future. The first lady of Ukraine is a special guest of the debate Olena Zelenska.

The stakes are high

– Let’s be clear: the stakes are high. Not only for Ukrainebut for the whole of Europe and the whole world. A difficult test awaits us. A test to which we are put by those who want to take advantage of all divisions between us. This is not only the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. This is a war for our energy, our economy, our values; fight for our future. The fight of autocracy against democracy. I am convinced that thanks to our courage and solidarity, Putin will lose, and Europe will win, said the head of the European Commission.

As von der Leyen emphasized, addressing Olena Zelenska, recent days have shown that the courage of the Ukrainians is paying off.

– You gave a voice to Ukrainians and Ukrainians on the world stage. And you gave us all hope. So today we thank you and all Ukrainians and Ukrainians. Glory to the state of European heroes. Fame to Ukraine! Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine will remain indisputable. From day one, Europe has been on the side of Ukraine. Supporting her with weapons, financial resources and hospitality for refugees. And the most severe sanctions that have ever existed in the world – she argued.

Olena Zelenska is a guest of the debate in the European Parliament CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON / PAP / EPA

“The Kremlin has pushed the Russian economy to ruin”

The head of the European Commission said that Western sanctions were effective. – The Russian financial sector is barely dying. We cut off three-quarters of the Russian banking sector from international markets. Almost a thousand multinationals have left the country. Car production fell by three-quarters compared to last year. Aeroflot planes are grounded because there are no spare parts left. The Russian military is removing chips from dishwashers and refrigerators to repair its military equipment, as there are no more semiconductors. Russian industry is devastated. It was the Kremlin that pushed the Russian economy to ruin. This is the price for the death and destruction caused by Putin. Let me be clear – the sanctions will be maintained. The time has come for us to be determined and not to make any concessions, she said.

Ursula von der Leyen announced that, together with Zelenska, she will support the reconstruction of the destroyed Ukrainian schools. – That is why we will allocate one hundred million euros for this purpose. Because the future of Ukraine begins at school – she added.

The head of the European Commission announced that the EU would introduce Ukraine to the European free roaming area. – The Commission will work with Ukraine to ensure smooth access to the single market. And vice versa. Our single market is one of Europe’s greatest successes. The time has come to extend this successful project to our Ukrainian friends as well. That is why I will go to Kiev today to discuss this issue in detail with President Zelensky, she emphasized.

Debate on the state of the European Union in the European ParliamentCHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON / PAP / EPA

Head of the European Commission: we have a lesson

Von der Leyen spoke, inter alia, about the actions of the EU in the case of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. – Europeans showed the courage to do what needed to be done. European Union as a whole it rose to the occasion. As soon as Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian grant, our response was solidarity. We can be proud of this. (…) If we show the necessary courage and solidarity, Putin will fail, and Ukraine and Europe will win, she said.

She also talked about “the lesson from this war”. – We should have listened to those who know Putin, who have dealt with him in the past. Anna Politkovskaya and all those Russian journalists who exposed crimes and who paid the highest price for it. Our friends in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, oppositionists from Belarus. We should have listened to the voices raised within our Union: in Poland, in the Baltic states and in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. These voices have been telling us for years that Putin will not stop, she said.

Ursula von der Leyen during the speech EPA / CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

Dependence on fuel from Russia

Ursula von der Leyen stressed that the EU must end its dependence on fossil fuels from Russia. – By departing from deliveries from Russia, we ensure imports from reliable suppliers: from the United States, Norway, Algeria and other countries. Last year, Russian gas accounted for 40 percent of our gas imports. Today that figure has dropped to 9 percent of the gas transported through pipelines. However, Russia continues to manipulate our energy market. Instead of supplying gas, Russia prefers to burn it, she pointed out.

She announced that the European Commission will propose measures to respond to high energy prices. – We propose a revenue cap for companies producing electricity at low costs. These companies generate revenues that they never counted on, which they would not even dare to dream of. Profits are positive in our social market economy. Nowadays, however, making record profits from war at the expense of consumers is unacceptable. Today we need to share our profits and channel them to those who need them most. Thanks to our proposal, Member States will gain over EUR 140 billion to directly mitigate the shock, she explained.

Olena Zelenska, Roberta Metsola (President of the European Parliament) and Ursula von der Leyen CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON / PAP / EPA

She added that as the current crisis is related to fossil fuels, the fossil fuel industry also has a specific task ahead of it. – Large oil, gas and coal companies generate high profits. So they have to share them honestly – they have to pay back their share of the crisis. All the solutions we are working on are exceptional and temporary measures. This also applies to our discussions on the price caps. We must continue to work to bring down gas prices. We must guarantee security of supply while ensuring our global competitiveness, she said.

She admitted that the EU is working to establish a “more representative” gas reference price than the Dutch TTF hub, where gas prices have risen sharply. – We must end the dominant influence of gas on electricity prices. To this end, we will carry out a profound and comprehensive reform of the electricity market – she emphasized.

Von der Leyen also spoke about the hydrogen market, which – as she emphasized – may bring a breakthrough in the European energy sector.

– The hydrogen market must become a mass market, not a niche market as it has been so far. The REPowerEU plan has allowed us to double our target – by 2030 we want to produce ten million tons of renewable hydrogen per year in the European Union. To achieve this, an entity must appear on the market capable of leading the process, so that it is possible to fill the investment gap and match future supply with demand. Therefore, I can announce today that we will create a new European Hydrogen Bank. The bank will act as a guarantor for the purchase of hydrogen, inter alia, using the resources of the innovation fund. The bank will be able to invest EUR 3 billion in the development of the future hydrogen market. In this way, we will build the economy of the future – she emphasized.

Ursula von der Leyen on the European hydrogen bankTVN24

Doubling the ability to fight fires

She announced that the EU will double its capacity to fight fires next year. – The European Union will supplement its fleet with ten light amphibious aircraft and three additional helicopters. This is European solidarity in practice, she said.

It also announced the creation of a “European Critical Raw Materials Act”. – We know that this approach can bring results. Five years ago, Europe launched a battery alliance. Soon two-thirds of the batteries we need will be produced in Europe. Last year, I announced a European chip act. Now, in the coming months, construction will begin on the first chip factory. We must now replicate this success, she said.

Invitation for Magdalena and Agnieszka

Ursula von der Leyen invited two Polish women to the European Parliament who helped refugees from Ukraine. – As soon as they heard about trains full of refugees, they hurried to the Central Station in Warsaw – said the head of the European Commission.

– It is said that in the dark the light shines brightest. This is what women and children who are fleeing Russian bombs can say so. They fled a country engulfed in war, filled with sorrow for what they had to leave behind and with fear of what might still await them. But they were received with open arms. By many people like Magdalena and Agnieszka. Two selfless young women from Poland. As soon as they heard about trains full of refugees, they hurried to the Central Station in Warsaw. They began to organize themselves. They put up a tent to help as many people as possible. They organized food from supermarkets, asked local authorities to provide buses to reception points. Within a few days, they gathered 3,000 volunteers who helped to receive refugees 24 hours a day, seven days a week “- said the head of the European Commission during the debate on the state of the EU.

Both Polish women were greeted with thunderous applause from MEPs in the EP building. – This is the spirit of Europe. A union that is strong together. A union that wins together. Long live Europe, said von der Leyen.

The head of the European Commission also announced that she would go to Kiev on Wednesday for talks with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.


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