When Ursula von der Leyen introduced her Green Deal a few days ago, she compared it to the moon landing. At her very first EU summit as Commission President, she now saw how many Member States want to follow her vision. They are 26. They are committed to being carbon neutral by 2050. Only one country should reach the destination later: Poland. It's too dependent on coal for it to commit. That's unfortunate, but it's understandable and it was to be expected.
Of course, now it will be necessary to see how the Green Deal will be implemented and will reach out quickly enough to achieve the EU's carbon neutrality. Much can go wrong. But first of all, Leyen succeeded in rallying the member states. That is a success. The risk that the EU would split on the green deal along an east-west line was significant.
Resistance not only came from Poland, but also from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Estonia. It is also the merit of von der Leyen that it did not come to this split. She has joined the countries of Central and Eastern Europe since her appointment as President of the Commission in July this year. She wanted to reconcile, that's what she always said.
Towards climate change the apocalyptic sting
She has been criticized for that. She was alleged to go to Poland and Hungary only because she needed her votes to be elected. Her career, critics say, has been more important to the Leyen than the country's significant legal problems. This was not only a difficult to substantiate subordination, it was also a bit short-sighted, not to say unpolitical.
For the reconciliation that Leyen has spoken of since her appointment is a political project. It is the prerequisite for the EU to gain enough power to meet the immense challenges of the future. If the EU is divided, then it will not go anywhere. Von der Leyen came to this conclusion early.
It was then no longer difficult to create the roof, under which (almost) all member states can arrive reasonably well-tempered. Climate change was also brought to the center of politics thanks to the Fridays for Future movement. Von der Leyen had to pick up on the subject, drive it with verve, and equip it with a vision. She emphatically appealed to the citizens of the EU: "We understood you!"
The Green Deal as the moon landing of the EU, that may be overdrawn. But with this story, the Leyen climate change has drawn the apocalyptic sting. Climate change is and remains a threat to humanity, but it also holds opportunities. Everything will change, but much will get better. That's the message.26 EU states could now agree with her. It is not a moon landing for a long time - but it is the confession of a rather heterogeneous group of states, together undertake a long journey.