EU Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen in her first state of the union speech announced an increase to the 2030 climate target, to ‘at least 55%’ emissions reductions, up from the previous 40% target. Speaking to the European Parliament, Ms von der Leyen looked back at what the Commission had done over the past year and unveiled a slew of new EU initiatives. As well as the 2030 target increase, she said the Commission would work to “enhance emission trading, boost renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, reform energy taxation”.
She also announced plans to tear down single market restrictions, a new strategy for the Schengen zone, and investment for digital technologies. And the EU’s decision making process needed to be speeded up, she added. Regarding foreign affairs, she stressed the need for collaboration in international bodies, but recognised the need for the EU to lead reforms of the WHO and the WTO. Although China was an important partner on issues such as climate change, this should not prevent the EU from speaking out on human rights violations, she said.
Von der Leyen talked about the impact the coronavirus has had and said this year’s event made clear the need to build a stronger European Health Union: “It’s time to do that and to start making this a reality. We must now draw the first lessons from the health crisis.”
Von der Leyen urged stepping up efforts to deal with migration. “Migration is a European challenge and all of Europe must do its part,” she said. The Commission President announced an action plan to fight racism and hate speech. She also stood for the rights of LGBTQI people and for the mutual recognition of family relations in the EU. “The future will be what we make of it,” said the EC president: “And Europe will be what we want it to be. We should stop trying to break it down and work to build it up, make it stronger and build the world we want to live in.”
Source: EU Business