On Wednesday the nominee for European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen appeared before a hearing of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament,
which you can watch back here .

Below are a selection of the questions our MEPs posed at the hearing and the answers von der Leyen gave, as well as what we would have liked to have heard in response. The below demonstrates why Greens/EFA MEPs will be voting against Ms von der Leyen on Tuesday in Strasbourg.
Greens/EFA: Why do you want the Parliament to accept a less ambitious emission reduction target than the Parliament already voted on (55%)? What are you proposing immediately, what are the concrete action you will take now on climate action?
Ursula von der Leyen: Jointly, the EU level is 40%, than if I commit myself to 50%, it is huge step forward. This is what I offer. We need a climate law. To repeat myself with the ETS: the maritime sector, aviation, we have to look at traffic and mobility; we have to look at buildings. We have to look at the social. Effects should compensated overtime if the effects are too hard on small and medium enterprise.
What we would like to hear: Not only do I want to see net-zero emissions by 2050, but I want to increase on the ambition shown by the European Parliament this year of 55% reduction in emission by 2030 but increase that to a 65% reduction, the minimum required to avert global temperature rises above 1.5c. I want a fair system for carbon pricing with a fundamental reform of the Emission Trading System to end free allowances, include the shipping and aviation sectors. I will introduce an EU kerosene tax and VAT on flight tickets and an end to EU-funded investment in airport expansion. Use the revenues generated to increase European investment in rail. I will end all fossil fuels subsidies and a commit to spend at least 50% of the EU’s budget (the MFF) on climate related investments.
The Greens/EFA: The Greens/EFA group want the Commission to put forward a revised proposal for the Common Agriculture Policy that works for the environment not against it, can you support this?
Ursula von der Leyen: This is difficult to answer with a clear yes or a clear no, I have to look in depth. It is an area where there could be conflict. Biodiversity and animal welfare are of interest to citizens. Climate neutrality is important. It will require behaviour change.
What we would like to hear: We need a new Common Agriculture Policy that makes payments conditional on taking measures against climate change, that support biodiversity and higher animal welfare standards, a reduction in pesticide use and cap direct payments per farm to €50,000 a year.
Greens/EFA: Would you be prepared to update the Air Quality Directive to revise air quality standards to the levels recommended by World Health Organisation?
Ursula von der Leyen: I cannot say yes or no.
What we would like to hear: We need air that we can breathe for people and for the planet. I will bring in a new clean air directive to stop the hundreds of thousands of premature deaths that occur every year through air pollution. The new directive will revise standards to add air pollutants that are not currently covered and I will make sure that car manufacturers play their part in reducing emission and particulates from their vehicles.
Greens/EFA: If you were an EPP delegate, would you vote in favor of the exclusion of Fidesz from the EPP?
Ursula von der Leyen: I don’t want to answer to hypothetical questions.
Greens/EFA: Would you initiate an Article 7 procedure against Hungary as Commission President?
Ursula von der Leyen: This is not the only procedure. There are other procedures in other countries on other issues. What is necessary is more transparency in these processes and monitoring of the rule of law in all Member States. All Member States should be subject to the same scrutiny.
What we would like to hear: I would expel Fidesz from the EPP and I would listen to the voice of the European Parliament and trigger Article 7 proceedings against Hungary for the government’s flagrant attacks on the rule of law. The rule of law is the what binds our Union together, which is why as Commission President I will bring in a new mechanism to permanently monitor all EU countries to deal with breaches of the rule of law, with sanctions linked to EU funds, based on the findings of independent experts through permanent reporting on all Member States.
Greens/EFA: Would you take the lead, as Commission President, to put in place genuine Search and Rescue EU operations in the Mediterranean Sea in order to stop migrants from drowning? Would you support the decriminalization of humanitarian assistance?
Ursula von der Leyen: The situation in the Mediterranean Sea is unsustainable. As German Minister, I initiated the Sofia missions (NB: they were not Search & Rescue missions but protection of borders missions). We need to deal with the sources of the problem, in the countries of origins, through economic cooperation. We need to define what is “legal” and what “illegal immigration” is.
What we would like to hear: People are drowning every week trying to reach Europe. As Commission President, I would bring back a European Search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea to save people from drowning. There must be no criminalisation of the NGOs and individuals who are saving lives at sea. There must be safe and legal avenues for people wishing to apply for asylum in the EU.
Greens/EFA: You were talking about minimum salary but not everyone has a salary, what is your position on minimum income?
Von der Leyen: I am not a friend of minimum income, too many open questions to be answered. First, it’s not clear this can be implemented at EU level. So far I haven’t seen evidence of pilots that are really working.
What we would like to hear: If we are to address the huge gaps in wealth across this continent and ensure that no EU citizens live in poverty then we must have a Europe-wide minimum income scheme ensuring salaries are set above the poverty line based on objective criteria.
Greens/EFA: Tax justice is part of social justice. Will you push forward a consolidated tax base for corporations? What is your view on the fact that one Member State can block tax policies?
Ursula von der Leyen: [..]
What we would like to hear: We cannot solve social injustice without fixing our broken tax system. That’s why I will ensure a minimum effective corporate tax rate of 18% across the EU, a digital services tax to ensure that tech giants pay their fair share and an end to unanimity decisions over tax issues in the Council. We need transparency around corporate taxation and measures to ensure that EU Member States cannot compete with tax rates to undermine each other in a race to the bottom that only hurts European citizens.
Greens/EFA: Would you commit to have effective and enforceable Trade and Sustainable Development chapters (TSDs) in future Trade Agreements? Would you support a moratorium on the ratification of the Mercosur Trade Agreement? Would you be ready to correct current imbalances in Trade agreements when it comes to Investor protection?
Ursula von der Leyen: Trade Agreements are necessary, there are in our interest. This is a tool to export our values, our standards. I support more transparency and more involvement of the Parliament in the negotiations process of trade agreements. We should enshrine the goals of the Paris agreement in our Trade agreement. If the other participants do not abide to those goals, we should withdraw.
What we would like to hear: Trade cannot come at the expense of the planet or people’s livelihoods. That is why I will ensure that any trade deal the EU negotiates with other countries will respect the Paris Climate Agreement and uphold the International Labour Authority’s standards on workers’ rights. Trade must not privilege corporations over people, which is why I will ban any form of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms from trade deals. I will stop any current trade deals that do not respect these criteria.
Greens/EFA: Would you have binding rules on arms exports across the EU to stop European manufactured weapons being sold to conflict zones?
Ursula von der Leyen: We need common rules at EU level on arms export.
What we would like to hear: Europe must share its responsibility for the wars and suffering going on outside our borders. European countries and companies must be banned from selling arms to countries engaged in conflict zones.