The massive influx of refugees from Syria in 2015 inflamed the ultra-rightist discourse and served as a pretext for the most ultramontane leaders of the European Union to deepen their assault on the rule of law. But it also triggered an impressive wave of solidarity in Germany. So many people showed up in town halls, in social centers, so many improvised stands were organized to give food and water to those fleeing the war that the authorities were overwhelmed to manage a movement that describes much better what Europe is all the soflamas of Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orbán. Thousands of families welcomed refugees. One of them was Ursula von der Leyen, whom the European Parliament confirmed as the next president of the Commission.
Von der Leyen herself recounted it in the speech before the Chamber, in which she drew up a pro-European program that dissipated many of the doubts that her candidacy had raised. He explained that he "had the good fortune" to welcome into his family a 19-year-old Syrian refugee, terrified and traumatized by the war, who did not speak German. Four years later, he helps in his community by day and studies at night, speaks German, Arabic and English and, said the German conservative policy, "is an inspiration for all."
The way in which von der Leyen was appointed left no doubt a lot to be desired: he ignored Parliament and the groups that form the backbone of the EU political system and relied much more on national interests and the exchange of trading cards between Heads of State and of Government that in the institutional reinforcement. However, it is evidence that Europe needs a plan for the next five years and the new president of the Commission demonstrated before Parliament that she has it. His speech was clear and forceful and defended a series of ideas that, beyond the political families, should be part of the consensus on which the EU should advance, a common project that the illiberals that pretend to dynamite the Union from inside.
He began his speech by recalling Simone Weil, first woman president of the European Parliament, feminist fighter, defender of freedom and Holocaust survivor. And he continued to shed a series of proposals, prioritizing the fight against the climate crisis, against youth unemployment and absolute respect for the rule of law -with no exceptions, he stressed-, as well as the establishment of "human borders".
The military – and von der Leyen has been Minister of Defense – maintain that no plan of attack survives contact with the enemy, that is, reality. The next few months will tell if she is a weak or strong president, if she is able to fulfill what was promised before a House that chose her divided and a little reluctantly. But his idea of a Europe of free, equal and supportive citizens, something that is not so obvious right now, must be remembered as many times as necessary. And she did it at the right time and place.
You can follow EL PAÍS Opinion on Facebook, Twitter or subscribe here to the Newsletter.