In a speech on the state of Europe, von der Leyen stressed the EU’s strengths as a bastion of openness and democracy in a troubled world and said Brexit had forged a tighter group out of the remaining members of the bloc.
“We must go our own European way with confidence,” she said in Berlin. But she added: “Soft power alone won’t suffice today if we Europeans want to assert ourselves in the world. Europe must also learn the language of power.”
“That means on the one hand developing our own muscles - where for a long time we could lean on others, for example in security policy. On the other hand, it means engaging our available power with more focus,” she added, pointing to trade ties with China.