Ursula von der Leyen

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We all have our own traditions, our own set of values and own way of doing things. But I would always choose Europe’s way of life – and our Union of solidarity, tolerance and reliability – over any other.

Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen née Albrecht (born 8 October 1958) is a German politician and physician, who has been President of the European Commission since 1 December 2019.


  • I was yesterday in Kyiv and I visited Bucha. And there are no words for the horror I have seen in Bucha, the ugly face of Putin's army terrorising people. And I have so much admiration for our brave Ukrainian friends fighting against this. They are fighting our war. It is our fight that they are in. Because it is not only Ukraine fighting for its sovereignty and integrity, but they are also fighting for the question whether humanity will prevail or whether heinous devastation will be the result. It is the question whether democracy will be stronger or if it is autocracy that will dominate. It is the question whether there is the right of might dominating or whether it is the rule of law.
  • Putin wanted to wipe Ukraine from the map. He will clearly not succeed. On the contrary: Ukraine has risen up in unity. And it is his own country, Russia, he is sinking. … We want Ukraine to win this war. But we also want to set the conditions for Ukraine's success in the aftermath of the war. The first step is immediate relief. … But then, in a second phase, there is the wider reconstruction effort. The scale of destruction is staggering. Hospitals and schools, houses, roads, bridges, railroads, theatres and factories — so much has to be rebuilt. … Europe has a very special responsibility towards Ukraine. With our support, Ukrainians can rebuild their country for the next generation. … This will bring the stability and certainty needed to make Ukraine an attractive destination for foreign direct investment. And eventually, it will pave the way for Ukraine's future inside the European Union.
    Slava Ukraini and long live Europe.

The European way of life (2019)

Full text online (PDF)
  • This is the European conception of life.
    It is about building a Union of equality in which we all have the same access to opportunities. It is about equipping people with the knowledge, education and skills they need to live and work in dignity. It is about having access to the services we need and the knowledge that we are safe in our homes and in our streets. It is about protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
    Ultimately, it is about how we all live together.
  • This European way of life came at a great price and sacrifice. It should never be taken for granted – it is neither a given nor a guarantee. The proof of that is that our way of living is being challenged every day – as much by anti-Europeans from within as from without. We have seen foreign powers interfere in our elections from the outside. And we have seen home-grown populists with cheap nationalistic slogans try to destabilise us from the inside.
    We should not allow these forces to hijack the definition of the European way of life. They want it to mean the opposite of what it is. They want to chip away at our foundations and sow division amongst us. They believe in politics that exposes problems, rather than solves them. We must fight back against this.
  • We all have our own traditions, our own set of values and own way of doing things. But I would always choose Europe’s way of life – and our Union of solidarity, tolerance and reliability – over any other.
    The European way of life also means listening and debating with one another to find solutions for the common good. And this is what I want us to do together.

State of the Union Address 2023


Honourable member states-honourable members... (Laughter)

    • (A slight gaffe as member states are not referred to as honourable.) [1]

Quotes about

  • And regardless of what surprises von der Leyen might have coming (in the 2023 State of the Union address), don’t expect to laugh.
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