Von der Leyen pledges emissions reduction increase to 55% in State Of The EU address

Ursula von der Leyen has pledged that the European Commission will drive a “sustainable and transformational recovery” that will make Europe a global leader

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen has pledged that the European Commission will drive a “sustainable and transformational recovery” that will make Europe a global leader.

The President of the EC revealed in her State Of The EU address that the European Commission is proposing to increase the 2030 target for emissions reduction from 40% to 55%. This will put the EU on track for climate neutrality by 2050 and for meeting its Paris Agreement obligations.

She said the Carbon Border Adjustment mechanism will help ensure others will follow Europe’s lead, by revising all the EU’s climate and energy legislation to make it “fit for 55%”.

The President further announced that 30% of the €750 billion NextGenerationEU budget will be raised through green bonds. 37% of te funding will be invested in European Green Deal objectives, including ‘lighthouse' European projects such as hydrogen, green building and 1 million electric charging points.

She called for a new ‘European Bauhaus’ as a co-creation platform for architects, engineers and designers, to launch “the architectural style of our times, reflecting our aspirations to make Europe the first climate neutral continent.”

Von der Leyen pledged to build a European BARDA – agency for biomedical advanced research and development – to enhance Europe’s capacity to respond to cross-border threats such as the coronavirus.

She also stressed the importance of protecting workers and businesses from external shocks, and pledged a legal framework for setting minimum wages, emphasising that “minimum wages work – and it is time work paid”.

She also called for a common plan for digital Europe with clearly defined goals for 2030, such as for connectivity, skills and digital public services. She further announced that the EU will invest 20% of NextGenerationEU's budget on digital.

Von der Leyen was criticised by the European Trade Union Confederation of not committing to solutions to the low pay problem, such as ending minimum wages below the poverty threshold and the right to collective bargaining for all. “The Commission president said she is a ‘strong advocate’ of collective bargaining. But we need to hear her plans for concrete action that will help the 76 million workers currently excluded from collective bargaining achieve genuinely fair wages too.”

On migration, Von der Leyen said Brussels will put forward its New Pact on Migration, with an approach based on humanity, solidarity and a “clear distinction between those who have the right to stay and those who do not”. She promised that the Commission will “step up and take responsibility” for dealing with the situation after the Moria fire, but: “if we step up, then I expect the Member States to step up…Migration is a European challenge and all of Europe must do its part.”

The President also stressed that the Commission will before the end of September adopt its first annual Rule of Law report covering all Member States. President von der Leyen pledged to ensure that EU funds are spent with the rule of law guaranteed.    

The Commission will present a European anti-racism action plan, strengthen racial equality laws and extend the list of EU-level crimes to all forms of hate crime and hate speech, whether based on race, religion gender or sexuality.

The Commission will also appoint its first ever anti-racism coordinator, and put forward a strategy to strengthen LGBTQI rights and will push for mutual recognition of family relations in the EU.

More in Europe