Five things from EU chief’s first State of the Union speech


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picture captionUrsula von der Leyen changed Jean-Claude Juncker in the EU’s high job in December

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has delivered her first State of the Union tackle, outlining her imaginative and prescient for the future of the European Union (EU).

The Commission drafts EU legal guidelines, enforces EU guidelines and has the energy to impose fines on member states if vital.

Here are 5 key areas Mrs von der Leyen touched on in her wide-ranging speech.

1) Climate change

The EU chief spoke at size about the surroundings, and introduced an bold plan to chop the bloc’s greenhouse fuel emissions.

She mentioned the goal was to cut back emissions by at the very least 55% from 1990 ranges by 2030 – up from an earlier objective of 40%.

“There isn’t any extra pressing want for acceleration than in terms of the future of our fragile planet,” Mrs von der Leyen mentioned.

“While a lot of the world’s exercise froze throughout lockdowns and shutdowns, the planet continued to get dangerously hotter,” she added. “The 2030 goal is bold, achievable, and helpful.”

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EU leaders will meet to agree on the goal subsequent month, however resistance is anticipated from some jap European international locations that largely depend on coal for his or her power. Most states again such a goal, nevertheless.

Mrs von der Leyen additionally mentioned 30% of the €750bn (£677bn; $859bn) post-coronavirus restoration package deal agreed by EU leaders final month could be dedicated to climate-friendly tasks.

“I’ll insist that restoration plans do not simply carry us out of the disaster but in addition assist us propel Europe ahead in the world of tomorrow,” she mentioned.

2) Coronavirus

Unsurprisingly, the EU’s response to the coronavirus pandemic featured prominently in the tackle.

“A virus a thousand occasions smaller than a grain of sand uncovered how delicate life will be,” Mrs von der Leyen mentioned. “The pandemic and the uncertainty that goes with it are usually not over and the restoration remains to be in its early phases.”

But Mrs von der Leyen praised the EU’s multi-million euro restoration package deal, which was agreed after 4 nights of talks, as a “probability to make change occur by design, and never by catastrophe”.

“We turned worry and division between member states into confidence in our union,” she mentioned. “We confirmed what is feasible after we belief one another.”

media captionEuropean Council President Charles Michel mentioned the deal was a “pivotal second”

The former German defence minister additionally introduced {that a} world well being summit would happen subsequent yr in Italy, and that the EU would construct a brand new company for biomedical analysis and improvement.

3) Brexit

While the UK’s departure from the EU solely obtained a quick point out in the speech, it prompted the loudest applause from the European Parliament members in the viewers.

“[Trade] talks haven’t progressed as we might have wished… and that leaves us little or no time,” Mrs von der Leyen mentioned.

“[The withdrawal agreement] can’t be unilaterally modified, disregarded or dis-applied. This a matter of regulation, belief and good religion,” she added.

media captionLeyen: UK and EU “collectively agreed” on withdrawal settlement
The EU chief was referring to a contentious invoice revealed by the UK authorities that seeks to overrule components of the Brexit take care of the EU.

The UK authorities has mentioned the invoice is a “very important security internet” wanted in the occasion {that a} commerce settlement shouldn’t be reached. But the authorities has additionally mentioned it breaks worldwide regulation, and the EU needs the laws scrapped.

“The Withdrawal Agreement took three years to barter and we labored relentlessly on it. Line by line, phrase by phrase,” Mrs Von der Leyen mentioned.

4) Technology

The Commission’s president known as for extra funding in expertise so the EU might preserve tempo with the US and China.

“We wish to lead the manner, the European manner, to the Digital Age: based mostly on our values, our energy, our world ambitions,” she mentioned.

Mrs Von der Leyen mentioned that 20% of the €750bn coronavirus restoration package deal could be invested in digital tasks, with an extra €8bn spent on the subsequent technology of supercomputers.

She known as for a “twin inexperienced and digital transition” at a time when “the world aggressive panorama is basically altering”.

5) Migration

Five years on from the 2015 migrant disaster, Mrs von der Leyen mentioned it had brought about “many deep divisions” inside the EU and “some of these scars [are] nonetheless therapeutic right now”.

“If we’re all able to make compromises we are able to discover a answer,” she instructed the viewers. “Migration is a European problem and all of Europe should do its half.”

She spoke after a hearth destroyed a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, leaving hundreds of migrants and refugees homeless and bringing the challenge to the fore as soon as once more.
media captionThe BBC’s Jean Mackenzie hung out talking to individuals at the camp simply six months in the past and displays on her experiences there

“The pictures of the Moria camp are a painful reminder of the want for Europe to return collectively,” Mrs von der Leyen mentioned.

“Next week, the Commission will put ahead its New Pact on Migration,” she added. “We will take a human and humane method. Saving lives at sea shouldn’t be non-compulsory.”

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