Every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers the State of the European Union (SOTEU) address before the European Parliament, taking stock of the past year and presenting priorities for the year ahead. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, delivered her speech for 2021 on 15 of September. It was followed by a plenary debate with members of the European Parliament.
The 2021 SOTEU addressed the most pressing questions in challenging times for Europe. The EU reached its goal to have 70% of the population fully vaccinated, but the coronavirus pandemic still continues to impact all aspects of European society. “We have 1.8 billion additional doses secured. This is enough for us and our neighbourhood when booster shots are needed. Let’s do everything possible to ensure that this does not turn into a pandemic of the unvaccinated”, said the President of the European Commission and added:" I am proposing a new health preparedness and resilience mission for the whole of the EU. And it should be backed up by Team Europe investment of EUR 50 billion by 2027. “
She focused also on the economic recovery after the pandemics. She highlighted that, with the Green Deal, the EU was the first major economy to present comprehensive legislation in this area and promised to support developing countries by doubling funding for biodiversity, pledging an additional €4 billion for climate finance until 2027 to support their green transition.
The President of the EC addressed also the situation in Afghanistan and promised to increase " again humanitarian aid for Afghanistan by 100 million euro.” Speaking about foreign and security policy, she called for a European Cyber Defence Policy and a new European Cyber Resilience Act and announced a summit on European defence to be held under the French Presidency. In her speech she touched as well upon rule of law, migration, protection of journalists or young people in the EU.
In their responses the leaders of political groups in the EP and other MEPs challenged the President of the EC on vaccination policy, more ambitious climate legislation, social measures, rule of law, defence plans and other important topics.
The State of the European Union debate is always a key moment to demonstrate the European Commission’s accountability towards the EU’s democratically elected representatives.