President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Macron on the presentation of the programme of activities of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU

“Thanks very a lot Président, expensive Emmanuel, I’m delighted to be right here with the School of Commissioners to mark the beginning of the French Presidency of the Council. France is taking up this prized duty in very specific circumstances: the general public well being state of affairs with regard to COVID-19 remains to be worrying. Nonetheless, we’re taking sturdy motion on the vaccination entrance. This has enabled us to vaccinate nearly 70% of the complete inhabitants and nearly 80% of adults in Europe. Not solely have we equipped Europeans with 1.2 billion vaccine doses, however in parallel, we’ve additionally exported 1.5 billion vaccine doses to over 150 international locations. Moreover, we’re massively supporting the economic system, particularly with €800 billion beneath the NextGenerationEU restoration programme.

“Nonetheless, this doesn’t imply different issues are being forgotten. For instance, as certainly you talked about, President, there are appreciable tensions at our doorstep, as proven by Russia’s army strain on Ukraine and its intimidation of Moldova. I’m delighted, subsequently, {that a} nation with the political weight and expertise of France is taking up the Council Presidency at such a fragile time. France’s voice resonates far and vast. And Europe is expensive to France.

“There are some main information on our agenda. First, in fact, on the local weather. The Fee has tabled detailed and bold proposals for attaining our goal of a 55% discount in greenhouse gasoline emissions by 2030. We wish to obtain this in a means that’s economically environment friendly and socially truthful. I understand how essential this stability is to you, President, and we totally share this ambition. We’re subsequently relying on the French Presidency to maneuver these proposals ahead.

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“Secondly, the digital transition. Our widespread ambition is to make Europe a real digital energy on the earth, structured in accordance with our guidelines and values. Final yr we put ahead formidable proposals, our digital markets and providers laws, as a way to foster innovation, whereas on the similar time making main platforms tackle their democratic accountability. I hope and certainly am certain that the French Presidency will transfer ahead on these points swiftly as a result of, as we all know, they’re on the coronary heart of European residents’ issues.

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“Extra usually and as you stated, we have to proceed to strengthen our financial mannequin, that of an economic system which is aggressive and social. We’re engaged on a brand new mannequin for European progress, naturally formed by the Inexperienced Deal, the Digital Agenda and Resilience, within the spirit of NextGenerationEU. That is primarily based on excellence, sustainability and aggressive European trade. I’m delighted to see our priorities converge on this space too, for instance our initiative to develop a aggressive hydrogen sector to attain the goals of the European Inexperienced Deal.

“Lastly, for this new progress mannequin, I wish to point out the proposal tabled by the Fee three weeks in the past on the taxation of multinationals. The European Union is among the first to implement this historic reform on the minimal tax price, as agreed by the OECD and the G20. I hope that we are going to shortly attain an settlement through the French Presidency as a result of this reform is required to make sure truthful world progress.

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“One other essential subject is border administration and the strengthening of the Schengen space, our space of free motion. This space is on the coronary heart of the European undertaking, but it has been weakened by various crises. We subsequently wish to restore, protect and strengthen the openness of the European Union’s inside borders. To this finish, we offered proposals for reforms on this path in December. And I hope that the French Presidency will be capable to give the required impetus to make progress on this situation. In fact, this additionally entails strengthening the administration of exterior borders, combating smuggling networks and dealing with international locations of origin and transit. That’s the reason I additionally wish to see fast progress on our Pact on Migration and Asylum, which presents exactly such a complete strategy.

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“Secondly, we agree that there’s a want for a real Defence Union. A Defence Union that prepares us for brand new threats sooner or later. For instance, the subsequent hybrid assault, regardless of the place it comes from. So allow us to agree on our priorities utilizing our Strategic Compass, which is a sort of White Paper on defence. I’m delighted that the French Presidency has dedicated itself to this situation. I’ve excessive expectations of the dialogue on this topic on the March Summit. I imagine it’s excessive time for the Europe of defence to maneuver up a gear.

“Lastly, I wish to speak about our relationships with Africa. In fact, within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to step up our help for that continent, in phrases each of vaccines and of the financial penalties. However past this disaster, Africa is clearly a key companion for the way forward for our continent as a result of it’s a geopolitical, financial and demographic house that will probably be important in tomorrow’s world. I’m subsequently trying ahead to discussing methods to deepen our partnership on the European Union and Africa Summit in Brussels in February.

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“That is a top level view of an formidable agenda for the subsequent six months. President, you may rely on the Fee’s dedication. And thanks very a lot for having us right here.”

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