The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, wanted to breathe new life into a European Union weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic, during her first speech by the State of the Union, on Wednesday, in Brussels. She presented her battle plan for a better prepared Europe, especially in the face of health challenges and climate change.
A first in a context of several crises. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered her speech on the State of the Union on Wednesday, 16 September. The Germans have tried to bring about a unity in the European Union, weakened by the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic and with the Brexit negotiations at a standstill. She called for a more resilient Europe in the face of health threats, climate change and the economic crisis.
In front of MEPs, the first woman in the leadership of the European CEO, who has made the Green Deal a pillar in her mandate, announced that she intends to raise the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the European Union. ” The EU for 2030, currently set at -40% compared to 1990 levels, at -55%.
This increase, which would have important consequences for the energy, transport or agricultural sectors, “is too important for some and insufficient for others”, admitted Ursula von der Leyen. But “our economy and our industry can face it”, she assured in this speech, a ritual in Brussels life.
The goal is part of the larger project to make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050, ie to be able to balance greenhouse gas emissions and their absorption.
In this spirit, the EUR 750 billion European recovery plan, which the Member States agreed in July to emerge from the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, will be financed by 30% with green bonds.
“We are breaking new ground when it comes to developing a strong EU standard for green bonds,” said the German.
“Vaccinationalism endangers life”
The coronavirus pandemic has also changed the game in the Union. It reinforced the need for Member States to act collectively and accelerate reforms to support their recession economy thanks to the investments made possible by the massive recovery plan adopted in July.
While the European Union seems weakened by the lack of coordination between its members, Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday called for a “European Health Union”: “We will create an agency for advanced biomedical research and development at the European level, as it exists in the United States,” he said. she to the European Parliament.
She also warned that “vaccinationalism puts lives at risk, vaccine collaboration saves them” as the search for a vaccine against Covid-19 faces stiff competition on a global scale. “In the face of the crisis facing the world, some are choosing to turn inward (…). We must ensure that European citizens and those around the world have access to it,” because “none of us will be safe as long as we not everyone is safe, she said.
“Intensify efforts” on the migration issue
The President of the Commission also raised several issues at the center of discussions between Member States, such as migration. She therefore called on “all EU Member States” to “increase their efforts” on the issue of migration, adding that the whole of Europe “must do its part” and “act in unity” in the face of the flow of migrants. This while the fire in the Greek camp Moriaa reminded us of the urgency of a lasting European solution, five years after the 2015 crisis.
Ursula von der Leyen did not discuss the issue, as the Commission will present on 23 September its long-awaited project to reform migration policy, which is still coming to an end: talks with the Member States are not over.
On the Brexit front, when relations with London deteriorate, the President of the Commission has warned: the agreement covering Britain’s exit from the EU, signed in January, cannot be changed unilaterally.
“It’s a matter of law, trust and good faith,” she said, as the British Parliament had just approved a bill which partially reverted to the commitments in the exit agreement. and that the prospects for an orderly exit from the UK are diminishing. At the end of the year, the end of the transition period is marked.
Warning in Ankara, “action plan” against racism and “hate crimes”
Ursula von der Leyen, who has promised to lead a “geopolitical” commission, also warned Turkey against any attempt at “threats” in the gas conflict between the country and Greece in the eastern Mediterranean. “If we are geographically close, the distance between us seems to continue to grow,” she said.
Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean will be at the heart of a European summit on 24 and 25 September, as will the situation in Belarus, where the repression of President Lukashenko’s opponents continues unabated.
Threats to the rule of law in several EU countries, such as Poland and Hungary, also had their place in the discourse. Ursula von der Leyen announced that she would present “an action plan” against racism and “hate crimes, whether based on race, religion, gender or sexuality”.
The “LGBTQ-free” zones that have been declared in a number of cities in Poland are “human-free zones” that “have no place” in the EU, the German insisted. It also wants the right of same-sex couples recognized in one Member State to be recognized in all.