EU growth has ‘stagnated’ under Ursula von der Leyen as election win in doubt | World | News

As the European Union prepares for its forthcoming parliamentary elections in June, the spotlight is once again on Ursula von der Leyen‘s bid for a second term as the President of the European Commission. However, amid her reelection campaign, questions loom over her management of the EU’s economy during her current tenure.

Over the past five years, von der Leyen has grappled with a series of formidable challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions like Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine. Yet, as Europe braces for a new era, concerns persist over the stagnation of economic growth under her leadership.

The cornerstone of von der Leyen’s economic strategy has been the NextGenerationEU program, a monumental financial initiative aimed at rejuvenating Europe’s pandemic-hit economy. With a package worth approximately €832billion, the program sought to mitigate the economic fallout from the pandemic and propel the EU towards a path of recovery.

However, the efficacy of NextGenerationEU has been marred by bureaucratic hurdles and delays in the allocation of funds. Despite its ambitious goals, the program’s impact on revitalising economic growth remains uncertain.

“While the NextGenerationEU has played a key role in preserving public investment, its implementation has been plagued by challenges,” acknowledges EU economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.

Moreover, concerns linger regarding the EU’s green transition and energy policies. While the EU Green Deal promises a sustainable future, farmers across Europe have raised apprehensions about job losses and the feasibility of stringent environmental regulations.

According to Luis Cano, a spokesperson for the ALDE party, von der Leyen has struggled to translate environmental strategies into tangible economic growth. “For five years, the Single Market was neglected, hindering the realisation of sustainable growth,” Cano told Euronews.

Europe’s dependency on Chinese green technology poses additional challenges to the EU’s decarbonisation efforts. While von der Leyen emphasises protecting the EU market from unfair competition, experts caution against escalating trade tensions, which could impede Europe’s transition to greener energy.

In addressing labour shortages, Iratxe García Pérez, President of the S&D group, advocates for investing in workforce training and professional development. However, the issue remains complex, with disparities in labor supply and demand exacerbating economic imbalances across EU member states.

Reflecting on von der Leyen’s first term, analysts acknowledge her adeptness at navigating crises but highlight persistent challenges in driving economic growth and fostering competitiveness.

“As we assess von der Leyen’s record, it’s crucial to acknowledge the complexities of EU governance,” said Rebecca Christie of the Bruegel think tank. “Her ability to steer the EU through crises underscores her leadership, yet significant economic challenges remain.”

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