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EU must keep its democracy ‘safe and secure,’ Ursula von der Leyen says, after announcing re-election bid

Ursula Von der Leyen - Moldova Invest

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EU must keep its democracy ‘safe and secure,’ Ursula von der Leyen says, after announcing re-election bid

Forumul Economic Regional Moldova 2024 – Vatra Dornei, 4–6 iulie

Ursula von der Leyen emphasized the necessity for the bloc to fortify its democracy, making it “safe and secure” through increased investments in defense, combating disinformation, and safeguarding its economy.

This statement came following her announcement of seeking re-election, as she spoke with Euronews.

On Monday afternoon, the German politician officially confirmed her aspiration to continue leading the European Commission for another five years. This declaration concludes weeks of speculation, injecting further intensity into the presidential race ahead of the European Parliament elections.

Should she secure re-election, von der Leyen is committed to elevating defense as one of the foremost and structurally significant priorities during her second term. Defense has traditionally been a less prominent policy domain in Brussels; however, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia has prompted Europeans to confront their deficiencies and vulnerabilities.

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Furthermore, the proliferation of misinformation, deep-fakes, and illicit content online has placed the bloc on high alert, particularly in the electoral context. Autocratic foreign governments actively seek to influence voters and shape favorable outcomes, posing significant challenges to the integrity of democratic processes.
“The most important part is to make sure that our democracy is safe and secure,” von der Leyen told Euronews.

Although military decisions remain the exclusive prerogative of member states, von der Leyen’s team is moving to centralise more powers in the industrial side of the defence. A soon-to-be-unveiled strategy, first reported by the Financial Times, will propose new tools to ramp up production, organise common procurement and roll out subsidies.

“Europe has gotten stronger because we all understand how important it is to have sound security spending and be able to provide security and to defend ourselves,” von der Leyen said.

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“We have to spend more. We have to spend better. And I think we have to spend more European to consolidate our defence industrial base.”

The imperative for Europe to enhance its defense capabilities has been further underscored by recent statements from Donald Trump. He indicated that if re-elected as US president, he would “encourage” Russia to attack any NATO member failing to meet the 2% GDP defense spending target. Trump’s remarks elicited strong reactions from Western leaders and instilled concerns regarding the long-term sustainability of the alliance.

NATO and the EU share 22 member states, intertwining the destinies of both entities. The fate of one is intricately linked with the other, emphasizing the necessity for collaboration and strategic alignment to ensure collective security and stability.

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“The alliance of NATO is of utmost importance for the European Union,” von der Leyen said in her interview with Euronews. “But I think it’s important that we do our own homework, that we fulfil our tasks.”

However, von der Leyen added, security must be seen in an all-encompassing manner. Her presidency has pioneered the concept of “de-risking” to deal with China and introduced far-reaching plans to do away with Russian fossil fuels.

“We’re also working hard to have economic security. We’re working hard to have energy security. We have diversified our energy sources and we have massively invested in homegrown renewable energy because this gives us energy independence,” the president told Euronews.

“So I see the term of security in a much wider sense.”


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