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The State of the EU 2021: the new European ideal of ‘Together’

The State of the EU 2021: the new European ideal of ‘Together’

Ursula von der Leyen quoted Robert Schuman and said: "Europe needs a soul, an ideal, and the political will to serve it"

Today, President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen gave her annual State of the European Union address, summarising the last year and outlining the future priorities of the Commission and the whole of the EU.

The new European ideal – ‘Together’

President Von der Leyen began her speech by thanking her colleges in the Commission, Parliament and the 27 Member states for their collective initiative in rising up and meeting the challenges of the past year. She read out a quote by Robert Schuman – the first President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the EU, serving from 1958 to 1960, considered to be one of the founding fathers of the European Union.

The quote said: “Europe needs a soul, an ideal, and the political will to serve this ideal”.

Ursula von der Leyen stressed that Europe has brought those words to life in the past 12 months by the decision to face 2020’s challenges together. She said that during the biggest global health crisis in over a century, the EU had the courage to go at it together so that every part of Europe has access to lifesaving vaccines.

The President of the EU Commission continued by explaining that during the deepest global economic crisis in decades, the Union chose to go at it together with NextGenerationEU. Finally, she said that in the greatest planetary crisis of all time, again, the EU chose to go at it together with the European Green deal.

She finished the introduction by thanking everyone for their work: “We did that together as Commission, as Parliament, as 27 Member States. As one Europe. And we can be proud of it.”

Charting a course for the future of Europe

President Von der Leyen continued the State of the Union address by outlining the future challenges and projects the block needs to face. First of all, she explained that everyone in Europe owes a debt to young people for their dedication to the fight against the pandemic. She remarked rather sadly about the many things citizens have lost, including time itself.

This is why the EU’s whole next year will be dedicated to strengthening the youth. She continued: “Our Union will be stronger if it is more like our next generation: reflective, determined and caring. Grounded in values and bold in action. This spirit will be more important than ever over the next twelve months.”

On the other hand, the Commission needs to tackle so many issues, coming up as a consequence of the pandemic, the economic crisis, the climate catastrophe and rising diplomatic tensions, as well as a possible new refugee crisis.

Von der Leyen presented the Commission’s plans for the coming year. They will, among others, include:

  • Continuing the vaccination efforts in Europe and speeding up vaccination globally, as well as strengthening the pandemic preparedness;
  • Working on closing the climate finance gap, together with global partners;
  • Leading the digital transformation that will create jobs and drive competitiveness, while ensuring technical excellence and security of supply;
  • Ensuring fairer working conditions and better healthcare, and creating more opportunities for Europe’s youth to benefit from the European social market economy;
  • Stepping up our cooperation on security and defence, and deepening EU’s partnership with closest allies;
  • Defending European values and freedoms, and protecting the rule of law.

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