Two years after the Commission, chaired by Ursula von der Leyen, took office, the European Parliament’s autumn plenary session in Strasbourg this week will be an opportunity to take stock of Europe’s situation and the challenges ahead.
12We have no reason to be ashamed of what the European Union has achieved over the past year, quite the contrary.
After some delays at the beginning, the European vaccination policy has been a great success, the extent of which I think few people realise.
Not only are 70% of adults now vaccinated, the European vaccine certificate saved the summer holidays and the tourist season in many parts of Europe.
On the economic front, by sending an important signal of stability, the 2020 recovery plan has helped to maintain a high level of confidence in the European economy and to avoid the worst.
However, the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the economy. We must therefore continue to focus our efforts on creating jobs for the future.
In the cut-throat global competition we face, our continent can only survive if we invest heavily in innovation and the future.
This is particularly true of climate policy. No-one can doubt any longer that climate change is a very real reality and that achieving climate neutrality will be one of the central political tasks of the coming decades.
But a policy can only be effective if it is also realistic. We must avoid pitting ecology against the economy and, above all, we must pay special attention to the social impact of the measures we take to combat climate change. Finally, while we can be proud of Europe’s ambition in the fight against climate change, our actions will only be a drop in the ocean if they are limited to Europe. This is why I call for the appointment of a full-time Climate Ambassador, whose mission will be to convince our partners to join us in this fight.
Finally, as I have already written in these columns, the Western debacle in Afghanistan marked the end of naivety for Europe. The security of our continent cannot depend on the ups and downs of American domestic politics. It is time for Europeans to move up a gear in terms of common European defence.
To make its voice heard and carry political weight in the world, the European Union must no longer hesitate to put not only its diplomatic weight, but also its economic weight in the balance.
On Wednesday in Strasbourg, we expect Ursula von der Leyen to specify her vision for making the European executive a true geopolitical Commission.
My column in l’Opinion