New commission president ‘stands ready’ for further Brexit extension

The new incoming president of the European Commission has said that she “stands ready” for a further extension of the Brexit deadline date – if a good reason is provided by the UK.

Ursula von der Leyen, the former German defence minister, said in her first address to the European Parliament today, Tuesday, July 16, that the withdrawal agreement that had already been negotiated “provides certainty where Brexit created uncertainty”.

As things currently stand, the UK is set to leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal.

I cannot talk about Europe without talking about our friends from the UK. For the very first time in 2016 a member state decided to leave the European Union. This is a serious decision.

“We regret it, but we respect it. Since then, together with the current government of the UK, the European Union has worked hard to organise the orderly departure of the UK,” said von der Leyen.

She added that one of her priorities was “preserving peace and stability on the island of Ireland”.

I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date, should more time be required for a good reason. In any case, the UK will remain our ally, our partner and our friend.

In a wide ranging speech, the German politician – who is a party colleague of the country’s chancellor Angela Merkel – also said that she would strive for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.

“To make this happen, we must take bold steps together. Our current goal of reducing our emissions by 40% by 2030 is not enough,” she argued.

According to von der Leyen, the “world has to move together”, which is why the EU will lead international negotiations to “increase the level of ambition of other major economies by 2021”.

To make this happen, I will put forward a ‘Green Deal’ for Europe in my first 100 days in office. I will put forward the first ever European Climate Law which will set the 2050 target into law.

“All of us, and every sector will have to contribute…emissions must have a price that changes our behaviour,” she added.

However, she stipulated that: “We need a just transition for all.

“Not all of our regions have the same starting point – but we all share the same destination. This is why I will propose a Just Transition Fund to support those most affected,” von der Leyen added.