If the sentence is correct that all truth is concrete, then this is a week of truth for Ursula von der Leyen. When the President of the European Commission took office a few weeks ago, she presented a government program that has rarely been seen in the history of the Union. At the heart of their considerations: a green deal that will transform the EU, renew the economy and take the apocalyptic sting out of the climate debate.
Where others see dangers, von der Leyen identified opportunities: future markets, technologies, jobs. To take advantage of these opportunities, a European "man on the moon moment" was needed - an allusion to the moon landing of the Americans in the 1960s, which many skeptics had thought impossible at the time, but which nevertheless succeeded. Can something similar work again today? And if so, how?
There is a first answer this week. After a meeting with Greta Thunberg (and after going to press), Ursula von der Leyen only formally presented the draft for a climate law this Wednesday. In reality, however, it asks the system question. Because what she is sketching goes far beyond a single law. Von der Leyen doesn't just want to redistribute power and money. It wants to save environmental protection in the EU's DNA, and in future it should be considered in every law and every program. This could change the economy and society more than the euro once did.
If you want to take a man to the moon, you have to be daring and pedantic at the same time. It takes the big idea and the many small adjustments - and that's exactly how you have to imagine the Green Deal. This week comes the climate law, next week the industrial strategy, the budget should go green, a billion-dollar fund will facilitate the restructuring of disadvantaged regions, a new agricultural policy will make agriculture green, the expansion of emissions trading the economy and a climate tariff the trade policy. If everything goes right.
The very first serve, at the beginning of the year, initially encouraged the pessimists. The Commission President announced full-bodiedly that Europe would have to spend one trillion euros for the Green Deal by 2030. The money should come from three sources: directly from the EU budget, from the member states and the European Investment Bank. However, the heads of government were little inspired by this. Although they discussed money for 36 hours at a special summit in February, they haggled like in a grocery store. But it was hardly about the environment or even the question of how the EU as a whole could operate greener.
The so-called "frugal four" (Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Austria) insisted that the EU budget should not under any circumstances amount to more than one percent of the economic output of the individual member states - above all because they pay more into the EU budget, when they got out. Guided by equally obvious interests, other governments that benefit from the payments from Brussels wanted more money for Europe - and therefore for themselves.