The traditions September State of the Union Speech (#SOTEU) of the European Commission president has been the first one for Ursula von der Leyen. The address before the European Parliament took place in Brussels, instead of Strasbourg, because of the coronavirus restrictions.
On 16 September in her first #SOTEU speech, she shared her vision for a stronger Europe and a better world after the coronavirus pandemic, radiating obligatory for her status enthusiasm over the EU radiant future.
However if in tone the speech did not deviate from the EU classical tradition of depicting the project as the ever-growing and successful endeavour in essence it broke with the tradition,because COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination of humanity, and related issued became the major focus, causing compression, and sidelining of many other policies – international relations became one of these areas of shrinking attention.
The overview of the EU external relations started with China, and ended with Africa with Enlargement and Neighbourhood policies squeeze in between, and complimented with haphazard mentioning of human rights. The compression of the foreign affairs chapter was striking,leading to frantic dashes from Uyghurs to Magnitsky Act, from Salisbury poisoning of former Russian secret service agent to migrant camps in Turkey.
President von der Leyen has been mixing the issues and problems with vague promises, and warnings of international politics as a disc jokey (DJs) mixes melodies, weather forecasts and advertising. The speech has been delivered on time, and almost entirely in English language in spite of the fact it is used only in two of the bloc members – Malta and Ireland – which constitute one per cent of the EU population. This Anglophilia was largely misplaces, taking into consideration the recent British Prime Minister consideration to opt for no-deal exit.
According to British press Boris Johnson will present an ultimatum to negotiators in coming days, demanding the UK and Europe to agree a post-Brexit trade deal by 15 October or Britain will step out without any agreement at all. Under the circumstances von der Leyen choice of English language looked rather submissive, and even masochistic, dissonating with major tones of the oratory, mixing cheerful slogans and staccato warnings.
“And the band played on…”