“It has been centuries since we have experienced such a health crisis and we have chosen to face it together.” It was with these words that the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, began her State of the Union address on Wednesday 15 September. The opportunity to recall the role played by the European Union in the distribution of vaccines against Covid-19, before drawing up the broad outlines of the next joint projects carried by the 27 Member States.
Overview of the main announcements to remember.
European Union to give more vaccines to poor countries
The EU wants to amplify its global ambition on the vaccine. Europe will thus give 200 million additional doses of Covid-19 vaccines to poor countries by mid-2022, in addition to the 250 million doses already promised, announced the President of the European Commission.
“It is a solidarity investment and it is also an investment in global health”, declared, before the European Parliament, Ursula von der Leyen, stressing that while more than 70% of adults in the EU are vaccinated, “less than 1% of vaccine doses were administered in poor countries”.
A new Erasmus, for young dropouts
“Europe needs all its youth”, hammered Ursula von der Leyen. After the success of the Erasmus program, which allows students to carry out an exchange within the European Union for one year during their studies, the President of the Commission announced the creation of a new program: Alma. This device must make it possible to “a temporary professional experience in another EU country (…) for young people who fall through the cracks”, unemployed or studying for example.
To mark the occasion, Ursula von der Leyen also announced that she would propose to make 2022 the Year of European Youth.
A summit on European defense in 2022 under the French presidency
On January 1, 2022, France will take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union. And one of the big events of the first half of 2022 is already known: a European defense summit in Toulouse. “We need a common assessment of the threats we face and a common approach to deal with them, an expliqué Ursula von der Leyen. Now is the time for Europe to step up a gear. “
Reform of fiscal rules
The European Union “will not repeat the error” committed after the last financial crisis. In 2008, a hasty return to fiscal discipline caused the continent to relapse into recession. “The lessons of the financial crisis could serve as a warning. At the time, we declared victory too early and we paid the price.”, declared Ursula von der Leyen, confirming the forthcoming opening of a debate on the reform of European budgetary rules.
Scheduled before the pandemic, this debate on a reform of the stability pact, which limits public deficits to 3% and debt to 60% of gross domestic product (GDP), had been suspended because of the crisis. The drop in activity combined with government spending to protect businesses and jobs has caused large deficits.
Additional aid of 100 million euros for Afghanistan
The European Union will provide an additional € 100 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to avoid “a humanitarian disaster”, announced Ursula von der Leyen. The EU had already announced the quadrupling of its humanitarian aid to bring it to 200 million in 2021. “We are alongside the Afghan people”, hammered the President of the European Commission.
A law against violence against women
The European Union wants to take its responsibilities in the fight against gender-based violence. “By the end of the year, we will adopt a law to combat violence against women, announced the President of the European Commission. It is about the dignity of each, the justice of each. “
Doubling the external budget for biodiversity
The European Union’s climate ambition was discussed at length by the President of the European Commission, in view of the COP 26 which is to be held in Glasgow in November 2021. “We are proud to announce today that the EU will double its external funding for biodiversity “, announced Ursula von der Leyen.
“COP 26 will be the hour of truth, according to her. Large economies have a duty to the least developed, the poorest countries. Now is the time to keep our promises. We don’t have time to wait anymore. “