On September 14, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, delivered the State of the European Union (SOTEU) address before the European Parliament, taking stock of the past year and presenting priorities for the year ahead. The speech was followed by a plenary debate with MEPs.
The SOTEU addressed the most pressing questions in challenging times for Europe. According to the speaker, the EU reached its goal to have 70% of the population fully vaccinated, but the coronavirus pandemic still continues to impact all aspects of European society.
“While we have every reason to be confident, we have no reason to be complacent…… We have 1.8 billion additional doses secured. This is enough for us and our neighbourhood when booster shots are needed. Let’s do everything possible to ensure that this does not turn into a pandemic of the unvaccinated I am proposing a new health preparedness and resilience mission for the whole of the EU. And it should be backed up by Team Europe investment of EUR 50 billion by 2027,“ the EP press service quotes the top EU official.
In Wednesday’s speech, she also touched upon the issues of the economic recovery after the pandemics, the climate change, rule of law, migration, protection of journalists or young generation, the situation in Afghanistan, and others.
Notably, Ursula von der Leyen urged the Europeans to pay attention to the developments that are happening at EU borders with Belarus.
“The regime in Minsk has instrumentalised human beings. They have put people on planes and literally pushed them towards Europe’s borders.This can never be tolerated. And the quick European reaction shows that. And rest assured, we will continue to stand together with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. And, let’s call it what it is: this is a hybrid attack to destabilise Europe,” she stressed.
In her opinion, those were ‘not isolated events’, as Europe saw similar incidents at other borders, and they could expect to see it again.
“This is why, as part of our work on Schengen, we will set out new ways to respond to such aggression and ensure unity in protecting our external borders.But as long as we do not find common ground on how to manage migration, our opponents will continue to target that. Meanwhile, human traffickers continue to exploit people through deadly routes across the Mediterranean. These events show us that every country has a stake in building a European migration system. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum gives us everything we need to manage the different types of situations we face,” the EC President said.
According to von der Leyen, in the year since the European Commission presented the Pact, progress has been painfully slow. She called on EU member states, EU officials, MEPs to speed up the process.
belsat.eu, following europarl.europa.eu, ec.europa.eu