The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered a speech on the State of the Community to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Speaking about compliance with the rule of law in the Member States, she noted that despite the general improvement in the situation, “concerns persist”. – In the beginning there is always dialogue, but dialogue is not an end in itself. That is why we are implementing a two-track approach of dialogue and decisive action – she said.
Ursula von der Leyen spoke at the session of the European Parliament with the annual State of the European Union address. The head of the European Commission noted that “societies based on democracy and common values are based on a stable foundation”. – Trust in common values united our founding fathers after World War II – she said
– These values are enshrined in the European treaties. We all made a commitment to respect them when we became part of the Union as sovereign states. We are determined to defend these values and we will never yield to this decision, she declared. The head of the European Commission pointed out that the rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union should be complied with in every country of the European Union.
Von der Leyen noted that “processes of concern are taking place in some Member States”. – In the beginning there is always dialogue, but dialogue is not an end in itself. That is why we implement a two-track approach of dialogue and decisive action – she added.
Ursula von der Leyen on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
She mentioned the issue of the EU’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. – More than 70 percent of our adult population has been fully vaccinated. We were the only ones to share and donate more than half of our vaccines to the rest of the world. We have delivered over 700 million doses to Europeans and we have delivered over 700 million vaccines to 130 countries around the world, said von der Leyen.
– A pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. We believe in science, we help Europe and the rest of the world. We did what it was necessary to do, we did it in European terms. And it worked. (…) However, we cannot look at the future completely calmly. Our first priority is to speed up immunization around the world. So far, only 1 percent of the doses have been made available in poor countries. This is a large scale of injustice. This is one of the geopolitical problems of our time – he stressed.
The second priority is – as von der Leyen said – increasing the number of vaccinations in EU countries. – We have 1.8 billion secured doses of vaccines. (…) Let’s do our best to prevent a pandemic for the unvaccinated, she said.
– Our immediate priority is to accelerate the world’s vaccination. We’ve already pledged to make 250 million doses available (to poorer countries – ed.). By the middle of next year, we will make a new donation in the form of another 200 million doses for low-income countries, said the head of the European Commission.
The head of the European Commission on aid for Afghanistan
The head of the European Commission raised the issue of Afghanistan. – We support the Afghans. We must do everything possible to avoid the real risk of severe famine and a humanitarian catastrophe. Therefore, we will again increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan by EUR 100 million – as part of a new, broader Afghanistan support package, she said.
The European Commission on the rule of law in EU countries
Earlier, a document containing the most important issues from the speech of the head of the European Commission appeared on the website of the European Commission. As regards compliance with the rule of law in the Community, it noted that “the European Union has built up its existing toolbox and initiated a pluralist debate on the culture of the rule of law across the EU”. “In July 2021, the Commission published the second EU-wide Rule of Law Report, which analyzed developments since last September,” it was noted
“The report from 2021 provides an in-depth assessment of the problems identified in the previous report and takes into account the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, there have been many positive developments in the Member States, including on issues that were identified as problematic in 2020,” it said. However, as added, “worrying phenomena persist.” “In fact, in some Member States these problems have worsened, for example with regard to the independence of the judiciary and the situation of the media,” we read.
The European Commission has noted that “respect for the rule of law is a necessary prerequisite for sound financial management and effective EU funding”. “The EU is equipped for the first time with a mechanism to protect its budget – including NextGenerationEU – against violations of the rule of law. The conditionality mechanism allows the EU to suspend, reduce or restrict EU funding in a manner commensurate with the nature, gravity and extent of these violations.” handed over.
“The European Democracy Action Plan, presented in December 2020, sets out measures to ensure that elections in the EU remain free and fair, and to strengthen media freedom and counter disinformation. With the ongoing digital revolution, citizens need to be able to distinguish between facts from fiction, and free media and civil society must be able to participate in an open debate free from harmful interference, “the document wrote.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / JULIEN WARNAND