Brussels (Brussels Morning) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen notes that France is taking over the helm of the EU Council at a delicate time. At a joint press conference with President Emmanuel Macron, she described the epidemiological situation in the bloc as still worrying.
However, Von der Leyen also saluted the growing effectiveness of the EC’s vaccination campaign push, pointing out that roughly 70% of EU citizens have been vaccinated against COVID-19, including nearly 80% of adults.
She noted how the EC has been dealing with the coronavirus crisis by is supporting the EU economy with recovery programmes.
The EC President cited the “considerable tensions at our doorstep”, among them the build-up of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine and Moscow’s intimidation of Moldova.
“I am delighted, therefore, that a country with the political weight and experience of France is taking on the Council Presidency at such a delicate time”, she declared, describing France’s voice as one that “resonates far and wide.”
Von der Leyen again urged the EU that it has to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The Commission wants “to achieve this in a way that is economically efficient and socially fair.”
On the issue of digital transition, she said the EC wants to make the EU a “digital power in the world, structured according to our rules and values.” In this regard, she noted, the EC had presented proposals last year to foster innovation while holding IT giants to account.
She hoped that France would “move forward on these issues swiftly because, as we know, they are at the heart of European citizens’ concerns.”
Von der Leyen said it was vital to continue to push the bloc towards “an economy which is competitive and social”. The EC, she observed, is “working on a new model for European growth, naturally shaped by the Green Deal, the Digital Agenda and Resilience, in the spirit of NextGenerationEU.”
The EU must strengthen its external borders and fight against human trafficking, given the “number of crises” that are jeopardising the openness of the bloc’s internal borders, she concluded.