Press release: 13 September 2023

State of the European Union: focus shifts away from the Green Deal goals

Today, the President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen gave her State of the Union speech for 2023.

Head of ClientEarth Brussels office, Anaïs Berthier reacted to it:

“Today’s State of the Union was an opportunity to reassert the need to finalise the Green Deal. While Von der Leyen acknowledged the importance of addressing the climate and biodiversity crises, there was no mention of crucial outstanding laws needed to achieve the Green Deal objectives. Instead, the President focused on addressing industrial interests and competitivity.

“Nothing was said on the Sustainable Food System law, which is key to ensure long-term access to healthy and sustainable food for people across the EU. Von der Leyen worryingly echoed growing false narratives on the risks to food security and the burden on farmers’ income that would be created by new obligations.

“Von der Leyen insisted on developing ‘fair trade agreements’ such as the EU - Mercosur agreement. Yet, no progress has been made on the sustainability chapters of these deals and there was no guarantee that the negative impacts of certain environmentally and socially damaging products would be addressed.

“She also promised a 25% reduction in reporting for companies, but it is unclear what wouldn’t need to be reported on anymore. The Commission must make sure that companies’ environmental and human rights impacts continue to be reported on as it is crucial to achieve the Green Deal’s goals.

“With the European elections looming, Von der Leyen seems to have adopted the position of a candidate. We hope it won’t make her lose focus on the need to ensure a liveable planet for future generations.”


About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.