European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has delivered her first State of the Union address in Brussels
"The pandemic - and the uncertainty that goes with
it - is not over. The people of Europe are still suffering. It is a period of
profound anxiety for millions. So our first priority is to pull each
other through this", European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in
her first state of the union address held in Brussels on Wednesday. Addressing
the European Parliament, the European official expressed her gratitude towards doctors and
nurses and to every other worker in the front line, who are taking risks so
others won't. Ursula von der Leyen announced the Union would create its own
biomedical agency for advanced research and development, dubbed BARDA. Leyen also said she would call a global
health summit, due to take place next year in Italy, in an attempt to better
prepare for future pandemics. On the other hand, Ursula von der Leyen announced
the European Commission is proposing to increase the 2030 target for emission
reduction to at least 55%, compared to the levels reported in 1990. The present
target was 40%. The aim is to become climate-neutral by 2050, von der Leyen
pointed out. This target is too much for some and not enough for others, and
will have negative impact on the energy, transport or agriculture sectors, the
European Commission president admitted. To help achieve this goal, 30% of NextGenerationEU's
750 billion euro budget will be raised through green bonds. Von der Leyen also
announced a strategy for the Schengen Area, based on the free Single Market.
The European official also insisted on digitization in all fields. The
Commission will make sure that money from the single budget and that of NextGenerationEU
is protected against any kind of fraud, corruption and conflicts of interest.
On the other hand, the Commission president announced a new action plan against
racism and hate crime, irrespective of race, religion, gender or sexuality.
Finally, von der Leyen urged Member States to dare move to majority voting when
issues pertaining to human rights or sanctions are involved. As regards Brexit,
Ursula von der Leyen warned the withdrawal agreement signed with the UK in
January cannot be unilaterally changed, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
now intends. On the other hand, the European Official warned Turkey to refrain
from "intimidating" its neighbors in its conflict with Greece over natural gas
exploits in the Eastern Mediterranean.
(Translated by V. Palcu)