State of the Union 2021: the EU tested by COVID-19

On 15 September 2021, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, conducted her yearly speech “State of the Union” in a plenary at the European Parliament.

President von der Leyen presented a summary of the past year and started by congratulating Europe for its efforts in fighting the coronavirus outbreak. She reported that more than 70% of the European population is now vaccinated and the NextGeneration EU is poised to foster resilience across the EU. Digital improvements have been made, such as the vaccine certificate valid all over the EU . She recognised the effort seen from the younger generation during the pandemic and proclaimed the year 2022 as the “year of the youth”. 

Moreover, she announced new measures related to COVID-19 resilience such as the new health strategy backed up with €50 million by 2027. Innovation and independence were also highlighted in her speech, as well as climate change: the funding for biodiversity will be doubled and the Conference of Parties (COP26) is expected to be groundbreaking with regards to carbon neutrality and environment-related policies next November in Glasgow, Scotland. 

“We have together turned our climate goals into legal obligations, and we are the first major economy to present comprehensive legislation in order to get it done[…] The goal is simple: to put a price on pollution. We will clean the energy we use. We will have smarter cars and cleaner airplanes and we will make sure that higher climate ambition comes with more social ambition” 

 – Ursula von der Leyen
President of the European Commission

Members of the European Parliament from all parties took the floor to express their position on President von der Leyen’s speech. Main critics from the MEPs were targeting the lack of real actions taken by the European Commission regarding the promises they made.

You can watch the full plenary here. 


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