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Debate of candidates for the head of the European Commission. Relations with China were discussed

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Four of the candidates for the head of the European Commission debated in Brussels at the invitation of the Bruegel think tank and the Financial Times daily. Some of the main issues were trade and relations with China. – The solution is dialogue – argued Ursula von der Leyen. – We can't be naive. For decades, we have ignored the threats coming especially from communist China, said Anders Vistisen.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who is seeking re-election on behalf of the European People's Party, stated that economic security is primarily about the competitiveness of the economy. – Lessons from the pandemic and war Russia against Ukraine, is the need for access to raw materials, energy and technology. It's about stable, safe and diversified supply chains. We cannot be dependent on one player, she said.

She added that at the same time, we cannot forget about the risks that come from outside the EU. In this context, she mentioned, among others: excess production capacity or forced technology transfer.

– The solution is dialogue. That's the reason I spoke to the president three times last year China Xi, she said. She added that the EU must believe in competitiveness, but one that is fair. – This applies to companies in our common market, but also to those from outside the EU that operate on our market – she explained.

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Schmit: we cannot sit on our hands

Nicolas Schmit, the socialists' candidate for the head of the European Commission, argued that when it comes to economic security, the EU “should not be protectionist, but at the same time it cannot be naive.”

– If a country has a strategy to take over the strategic technology market in the EU, we cannot sit on our hands – he said.

He added that the pandemic showed how vulnerable the EU automotive sector was to the breakdown of supply chains when semiconductors stopped arriving in the EU. – The same applies to the pharmaceutical sector. We need a strategic point of view on our economic security, he said.

Ursula von der Leyen, Nicolas Schmidt, Sandro GoziVirginia Mayo/Associated Press/East News

Gozi: let's focus on the defense industry

According to the candidate of the Renew Europe group, Sandro Gozi, economic security can be ensured when there is a strong political will behind it.

– World is changing. A time when we could produce in China, import energy from Russia and delegate our security to USA, run out. This means we should focus much more on the defense industry, he said.

Gozi agreed with the other candidates that European Union “she shouldn't be naive” about China and other community partners. – If the tenders are addressed only to their companies, I see no reason why we should not do the same and reserve public tenders only for our companies. We must also say 'yes' to free trade, but not to unfair trade, he said.

Vistisen: We cannot be naive towards China

Anders Vistisen from the Identity and Democracy party said that the EU “was built on the idea of ​​a free market and free trade, and yet the Community applies high customs tariffs, massive public aid, and the internal market does not work properly.”

– We need to return to the times when we can conclude free trade agreements with friendly nations such as the US, countries in Southeast Asia and South America. At the same time, we cannot be naive. For decades, we have ignored the threats emanating especially from communist China. This has to end. China must be pushed out of any critical infrastructure, he stressed.

The debate was organized by the Brussels think tank Bruegel and the Financial Times daily.

The most important EU institutionsPAP

Election of the President of the European Commission

Since 2019, the President of the European Commission is Ursula von der Leyen, whose term ends in October 2024. Von der Leyen is seeking re-election on behalf of the European People's Party and is one of the so-called spitzenkandidaten, i.e. candidates selected by political factions in the EU for the highest position in the European Commission.

The “leading candidates” procedure does not guarantee that the candidate of the winning party (according to polls it will probably be the European People's Party – ed.) will automatically take the position of president of the European Commission. Its appointment must be approved by the Heads of State and Government of the European Council by a majority vote and then European parliament.

SEE ALSO: Same vote, different rules. How are elections to the European Parliament held?

Apart from the current head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyenan Austrian is running for the position of head of the Commission Walter Baier as a representative of the Party of the European Left (PEL), Dutch MEP Bass Eickhout – in a duet with an MEP Terry Reintke are the Green candidates, Valerio Ghiletchiformer deputy speaker of parliament Moldova on behalf of the European Christian Political Movement, Maylis Rossberg from the European Free Alliance, current EU Commissioner for Labor and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit on behalf of the Social Democrats, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann – German politician FDP for defense, here from the Liberals (ALDE), and a Danish MEP Anders Vistisen as a representative of the right-wing faction Identity and Democracy (ID).

Main photo source: Virginia Mayo/Associated Press/East News

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