‘Bored to death’ EU Commissioner knits during Ursula von der Leyen’s speech

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson made headlines during President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union speech when she was pictured knitting.

Mocking the EU Commission President, Nigel Farage, commented on the incident, tweeting: “Even Ursula von der Leyen’s own EU Commissioners are bored to death with what she has to say!”

Johansson’s love for knitting is not new; in fact, she had previously shared a video on social media in 2020, showcasing the wool socks she had personally made for all her collaborators.

However, her choice to knit during such an important speech drew attention and sparked speculation about the level of engagement among EU Commissioners.

During her annual State of the Union address in Brussels, von der Leyen covered a range of topics, including Ukraine, climate change, China, irregular migration, and EU expansion. However, she notably did not address whether she plans to run in the upcoming European Parliament elections in 2024.

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“It is the moment to show them that we can build a continent where you can be who you are, love who you want, aim as high as you want. A continent reconciled with nature and leading the way on new technologies. A continent that is united in freedom and peace,” von der Leyen said during her speech, emphasising the importance of Europe’s role in shaping the future.

The hour-long speech, however, left out the highly anticipated question of von der Leyen’s intentions regarding her future in her current role. This omission raised curiosity and speculation about her plans beyond the upcoming elections.

Italian MEP Marco Zanni expressed his disappointment with von der Leyen’s speech, describing it as an election manifesto rather than a comprehensive response to the current crises. Zanni criticised the focus on ideology and called for more pragmatism, particularly regarding the Green Deal and the need to protect European businesses from unfair competition, particularly from China.

In a note sent to Express.co.uk, he wrote: “We didn’t expect fireworks from Von der Leyen’s speech, which sounds like an election manifesto. But we remain disarmed by words on responses to the crisis. On the Green Deal, we have a historic opportunity. With Timmermans’ departure, we can put the transition on the right track.

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“The EU is not the problem with climate change, just as our farmers, our businesses, our property owners are not. We need less ideology and more pragmatism, otherwise, the only winner will not be the environment, but will be China.

“Does the EU really still need to launch an investigation into subsidies today, when it is clear that Beijing is engaging in unfair competition? More than investigations, we expect Brussels to do what it has to do to protect businesses and impose duties on those who don’t respect the rules. On the investigation into the impact of bureaucracy, we are once again stunned.

“There is no need for a special envoy: there are those elected in Parliament, who speak every day with businesses, who ask for less bureaucracy, fewer laws, better-made laws and more freedom.”

Zanni also highlighted the issue of immigration, stating that the EU needs to address the problem seriously and ensure that the burden of migratory flows is not disproportionately placed on a few countries. He stressed the need to reduce illegal immigration and called for a clear stance on the matter.

He added: “On immigration, many initiatives have been announced, but even today it does not appear that the EU wants to seriously address the problem: it suits some that the burden of unsustainable migratory flows falls on only a few countries. The EU line must be clear: those who do not have the right to enter the EU must stay outside, illegal immigration is a crime, and there is no way we can talk about redistribution if departures are not reduced.

“I really hope that in these months we change course and try to give more space to what the citizens ask of us and which does not need committees and envoys.”

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