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EU COMMISSION: Ms von der Leyen’s programme. Social pillar, migration policy and a conference on the future of Europe

The “full implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights” – this is the third priority outlined by the candidate for Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, in her work programme. Minimum wage, European Child Guarantee, Youth Guarantee, and gender equality strategy – these are just some of the keywords of her action plan. Ms von der Leyen announced her intantion to tax “big tech companies” to support the social system, education and infrastructure, by turning the EP’s proposals into law. The letter that the candidate addressed to the S&D Group today in response to a number of issues which were left unanswered during last week’s meetings and required further clarification also focuses on the rule of law and migration: proposals include a “New Pact on Migration and Asylum”, a “new way of burden sharing”, “a fresh start”, and “support to Member States” which “face the most pressure”. For Ms von der Leyen, the reform of Frontex and the 10,000 border guards cannot wait until 2027, but should be operational “by 2024”. Ms Von der Leyen also mentioned a “more sustainable approach for search and rescue”, the need to “dismantle” migrant trafficking, and legal migration and routes “to bring in the people with the skills and talents that we need”.
The programme of the candidate for president also mentions “new trade agreements” (on which to report back to Parliament regularly), the “European perspective of the Western Balkans”, and support for the proposal to open “negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia”. Ms von der Leyen also backed the proposal already put forward by the President of the European Parliament to hold a “Conference on the future of Europe” where citizens can have their say (starting in 2020 and running for two years). As regards Parliament, the candidate promised to “support the right of initiative for the European Parliament”, to improve the Spitzenkandidaten system by making it more visible, and to deal with “the issue of transnational lists”. “The Conference on the future of Europe should come forward with legislative proposals” on all of these matters to ensure “new rules” are in place before the next European Parliament elections in 2024. Last but not least, her views on Brexit: “we want to build” an “ambitious and strategic partnership” with the UK after Brexit, but “should more time be required”, “I will support a further extension, if good reasons are provided”.

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