On 14 September, during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, European Commission President von der Leyen delivered the annual Address on the State of the Union. The speech was intended to outline the Commission’s priorities and upcoming legislative initiatives, and was followed by a parliamentary debate on the political situation of the EU.
The address and subsequent discussion were dominated by the topics of the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis. As a key measure in the short term, the President announced a proposal for a Regulation (on an EU emergency intervention to reduce electricity bills in Europe. The main components of the Regulation are the obligation for Member States to reduce overall energy consumption by 10% until 10 March; a temporary extension to SMEs of public intervention in electricity price setting; a solidarity contribution by fossil fuel companies and a temporary cut in profits from renewable and nuclear energy companies. The collected resources will be given to Member States to support consumers and businesses through measures such as compensations for reduced consumption, direct transfers, promotion of investments in renewables and energy efficiency.
Von der Leyen also announced an upcoming relief package for SMEs and a proposal for single set of tax rules to do business in the EU. In addition to the above-mentioned initiatives, the Commission announced support for the accession of the Western Balkans to the EU,2023 as European Year of Skills, and a new European initiative on mental health to ensure affordable and appropriate support to EU citizens.