In the face of rising global powers, populist ideologies, trade wars and slow economic growth, the von der Leyen Commission seeks to reinforce its union in order to retain its place on the global stage.
Jobs, growth and investment have been high on the agenda with Jean-Claude Juncker’s Commission, as well as strengthening both solidarity and responsibility in the Union. These issues are set to remain a priority as the von der Leyen Commission takes Europe through the next five years. Dutch MEP Caroline Nagtegaal-van Doorn, who has worked at the Port of Rotterdam and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and is now a member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, discusses her hopes for the European Commission’s priorities over the next five years.
How can the von der Leyen Commission ensure equal opportunity for all in the face of economic, ecological and digital transitions?
We are currently going through a transition period in our economy and I believe that in any transition period everyone should have enough time and resources in order to adapt themselves for this new situation. I believe that things should be affordable for people at home and in European companies, so we have to keep a realistic outlook. The Commission should not take any measures in which our companies cannot grow – if we do we may lose them, which achieves nothing for the ecological transition. What we do in the EU is economic, ecological, digital: we have to keep our competitive position in mind when setting our agenda.
Will climate change be a high priority? What can the von der Leyen Commission do to ensure the EU is meeting its own targets and adhering to the Paris climate agreement, as well as setting an example to the rest of the world?
The Paris agreement sets a very high target, but I believe that it is possible to set our goals for carbon reduction even higher. This is a position we already have in the Netherlands with regard to CO2 emission reduction; and in order to do this on an EU-wide level, the Commission should give more benefits to companies which are already on the right path. I know of so many companies which take responsibility and try to reduce their CO2 emissions; so for me, it is very important that we make sure to support innovation with technologies that will help us with our goal.
We cannot do it on our own – the Commission represents the political sector so we are responsible for setting targets and policies, but we have to start to trust businesses more because they do so many wonderful things. What the port industry and the oil and energy sectors are doing with renewable energy is fantastic; and it is a large task, so I am happy to see so many businesses taking responsibility in this matter. The von der Leyen Commission has to make sure to enforce this in the upcoming mandate.
What is the importance of the Capital Markets Union and the role it will play over the next five years?
We make agreements between Member States regarding our economic and monetary union. A deal is a deal, so whatever agreements are made need to be adhered to – however, sticking to these deals is sometimes the biggest problem when it comes to the Capital Markets Union. Italy, for example, does not adhere to the agreement; and that is so dangerous for Italy as well as other countries in the European Union. The only way we can make our Capital Markets Union and Banking Union stronger is to be united.
How can the EU navigate an increasingly temperamental trade environment and ensure it is competitive with other emerging powers?
Right now China is rising and the US is a still a big trade power; as is Russia. The European Union should act collectively, as a bloc. What we see right now is that China is trying to divide the countries in the EU – they all have different deals with Beijing; which is good for the countries, but not good for Europe. This is because in this situation, in the end, we will all lose.
My hopes are that in the coming five years we will work together as a union so we can face the superpowers of the world. In the last month of the previous mandate we came up, as all parties, in the European Parliament to suggest how we should act towards China regarding its technological power and other spheres of influence. We were very vocal as a parliament on how we should act and protect our safety and security which is the main issue. As a superpower, we can face the other superpowers.
How can Europe promote European interests and values on the global stage?
The answer to this is very simple: that is to act; to do, to have great companies and big inventions to show that the European Union has the great professors, we have great talent and higher education; we have the people who work hard. We have to show the world that not only do we have the most beautiful continent in the world but also the brightest and most hard working people and the most competitive companies, so we need to showcase what we have here.
What can the Commission learn from the last five years to ensure efficiency in the next five years?
In the previous mandate there was not a focus on every issue, so it was not very selective. What I hope we can do in the coming years is to focus on the big issues. We do not need the von der Leyen Commission to mess with summer or winter time, we need it to focus on the big issues like climate change, mobility and transport, international trade. I want the EU to act upon the countries that do not stick to the agreements we have made so we can say this is why we need the European Union. I think the time is now for the Union and Parliament to get to work.
Caroline Nagtegaal-van Doorn
MEP Renew Europe/VVD
Committee and Transport and Tourism
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs