European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen wants the European Union to impose sanctions more quickly if a country violates human rights, she said on Wednesday during her first major policy speech in Brussels.

In her speech, the EC President was very critical of the way the EU imposes sanctions on other countries.

According to Von der Leyen, it is a slow process that takes too much time.

Von der Leyen believes that unanimity should be abolished, so that only a majority is needed to impose sanctions.

However, this requires a change in the law.

"Let's make sure that we can take a majority decision on these matters," said von der Leyen.

Even simple explanations are talked about for too long, according to her.

She cites Belarus (what we called Belarus until recently) and Turkey as examples.

Despite commitments, the EU has not yet taken action against these countries.

She also proposes to come up with a European Magnitsky law.

This American law was introduced after the death of the Russian activist Sergei Magnitsky.

He died in a Russian cell in 2009.

The law made it easier for the US to impose sanctions on Russian government officials.

The EU could impose sanctions against senior officials from other countries on the basis of a similar law.

Von der Leyen wants to further reduce emissions

In her speech, von der Leyen also discussed her plan to make Europe a climate neutral continent.

In order to achieve this goal by 2050, she wants to reduce emissions by 55 percent by 2030.

A reduction of 40 percent was previously agreed.

For this, she says, the EU must "act faster and do things better".

She advocates reviewing all EU climate and energy legislation before the summer of 2021 to achieve that 55 percent reduction.

Moreover, Von der Leyen is striving for a better way to tax CO2 emissions.

The so-called Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism should motivate foreign producers and European importers to reduce emissions.

Strict rules and conditions apply within the EU, but not or to a lesser extent outside it.

This makes it sometimes more beneficial for companies to import products.

When she took office last December, von der Leyen already presented an ambitious climate plan: the European Green Deal.

It states, among other things, that Europe must be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

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