Watch back: Von der Leyen delivers annual state of EU speech

Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, left, is welcomed by European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, centre, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, left, is welcomed by European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, centre, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Copyright AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias
By Alice Tidey
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The war in Ukraine and soaring energy prices featured heavily in the Commission President's speech.


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has delivered her annual State of the EU speech.

During her address in the parliament in Strasbourg, von der Leyen outlined her thoughts and priorities on how Europe has responded to the war in Ukraine and how it must shield European households and businesses from crippling energy costs and record inflation.

She also spoke about European enlargement and efforts to address the climate crisis. She said that young people's aspirations should be at the heart of the European Union's actions.

Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was present as von der Leyen's guest of honour.

Look back at our blog updates during the speech, and subsequent MEP debate below.



  • Ursula von der Leyen delivered her annual State of the EU address in Strasbourg today, highlighting the war in Ukraine and energy crisis. It was followed by debate by MEPs.
  • Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska was the guest of honour during the speech, with von der Leyen calling Ukraine a "nation of heroes."
  • Von der Leyen announced she will travel to Kyiv to meet with Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday afternoon.
  • She said the EU was "not complete" without Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine and the Western Balkans.
  • She added that "Summer 2022 will remain in people’s memories" due to the heatwaves and drought.
  • Von der Leyen said that "our Union as a whole has risen to the occasion" in its response to the war in Ukraine.
  • These are Euronews' six takeaways from the annual speech.
  • Here's some of the areas in which the Commission made strides in the past year since the last speech.
  • Europeans told us what they think about the state of the European Union. From concerns about the energy crisis to a sense that Europe is more united amid the war in Ukraine, here's what they had to say.

That's it for our live coverage on von der Leyen's speech. Keep following our coverage on for reaction to the speech and more discussion. Watch back the speech in the video player above and read our updates in the blog below.


Six key takeaways from Ursula von der Leyen's speech

Ursula von der Leyen spoke about the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis in her address but also about nature and the importance of democracies.

Here are our six takeaways from her annual address.


More experts' reactions coming in


Concrete global proposals 'lacking' from SOTU: One Campaign

Reactions to the State of the Union are starting to trickle in and The One Campaign, an NGO working to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease, is not satified.

"“Today President von der Leyen set out the priorities for next year, yet concrete global proposals extending past our borders were lacking, failing to acknowledge the impacts of the war on African partners faced with deteriorating food security and climate-related disasters," Acting EU Director Guadalupe de las Casas Escardó, said in a statement. 

"The EU must act decisively before it’s too late to reinforce health systems, strengthen the EU budget and fight the climate emergency," Escardó added. 

The NGO urged the EU to donate €715 million to fight diseases including Aids, malaria and tuberculosis worldwide and to triple its collective climate finance to €75 billion per year to ensure tends of millions of people do not fall into poverty as a result of climate change. 


Von der Leyen replies to the groups' leaders

When she returned to the lectern, the Commission chief said she understands "time is of the essence."

She then turned to The Left's Manon Aubry and conceded that energy bills had become "unbearable" to many but deflected criticism, adding: "Send those bills to Moscow, that’s where they belong."

She urged MEPs to swiftly adopt the RePowerEU package, arguing that it would deliver massive investments for renewables and cross-border projects and said that she would issue "the same plea" to the European Council. 

On the food crisis, she reiterated that the sanctions do not prohibit Russia from exporting food products or fertilisers and that Moscow's claims to the contrary are "lies". 

"We should be very clear in our messaging. Fact is Putin has created the food crisis, Europe and the United Nations are working to put an end to that," she said. 

She also stressed that Europe is a top agri-food producer and exporters and said the bloc is supporting its farmers by allowing them to cultivate any crop in the next farming season. She also noted the EU triggered "for the very first time" a crisis reserve to disburse €500 million to the most affected farmers. 


The Left criticises von der Leyen for not drawing lessons from crises past

Manon Aubry, co-chair of The Left group, opened her time at the lectern brandishing energy bills to emphasise that there are "millions who can no longer cope with the staggering increase in prices" while "dividends of shareholders.
have soared by 29%."

She argued that the economic slowdown is not just down to the war in Ukraine but also "the product of an economic system whose flaws you are now obliged to acknowledge."

She took aim at "super-profits of large multinational companies" and called for increased taxation on all those that have "benefited from the crisis", namechecking luxury and freight companies as well as banks. 

On energy prices, she said a cap on gas should be set on pre-crisis levels.

On climate, she said: "Our planet is burning, people are being told that we need to suspend wifi, but you are still asking us to empty the sea with a spoon. And, at the same time, you insist on importing milk and meat from New Zealand, literally 19,000 kilometres away."

"That is the crux of the problem, Mrs von der Leyen, the crisis is forcing us to change our ways temporarily, but nature will soon return, and it is the same story with the pandemic. You told us that you had learnt your lesson, but you immediately go back to business as usual," she said.

She expressed support for treaty changes but deplored the slowness of the process. 

"We don't have time to wait and put it off until tomorrow. In reality, you are trapped in a broken software and the end-of-life model of a collapsing liberal policy," she told von der Leyen. 


Gas prices cap and decoupling energy prices are needed to address crisis, ECR co-chair says

Raffaele Fitto, chair of parliament’s group of European Conservatives and Reformists called for a cap on gas prices and the decoupling of gas prices from energy prices in general.

“We need to provide full support to the difficult path that we have taken on sanctions. Only sanctions can bring results,” Fitto said.

He said countries like Poland had shown exceptional efforts to help refugees.

“We need to be conscious that unity cannot be achieved by seeking conflict. It has to be true and substantial,” he said.

“The rule of law is important but the debate cannot be contaminated by ideological issues," he added.


ID group leader says Commission proposals 'not remotely sufficient'

Marco Zanni, leader of the right-wing, opened his address by taking aim at his colleagues who criticised the rise of the far-right in Italy as national elections there loom.

He then attacked the Commission's proposals to mitigate the impact of the "dramatic situation" as " not even remotely sufficient to bring concrete help to those who are suffering today through no fault of their own."

A cap on gas prices, he went on, "does not give us hope" because it "still remains aleatory".

The State of the Union speech is expected to last 40 minutes to one hour and is followed by debate by MEPs.

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