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Von der Leyen calls for stronger EU defence cooperation

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Von der Leyen calls for stronger EU defence cooperation

Ursula von der Leyen - Photo © European Union 2021

(STRASBOURG) - In her 'State of the Union' address to the European Parliament Wednesday, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called on EU member states to step up cooperation on security and defence.

"Europe can – and clearly should – be able and willing to do more on its own," said the head of the EU executive. Member states need to strengthen the EU's partnership with NATO and its allies, and "discuss a common way forward on defence and security." She called for a European Cyber Defence Policy and a new European Cyber Resilience Act and announced a summit on European defence to be held under the French Presidency.

She also pointedly emphasised the EU's commitment to implementing international agreements, and that "we will remain united in our support of Ireland and of peace on the island of Ireland".

The EC president started her second State of the European Union address highlighting that, in the biggest global health crisis for a century, the deepest global economic crisis for decades and the gravest planetary crisis of all time, "we chose to go it together. As one Europe. And we can be proud of it".

She stressed that Europe is among the world leaders in vaccination rates, while sharing half of its vaccine production with the rest of the world. Now the priority is to speed up global vaccination, continue efforts in Europe and prepare well for future pandemics.

Looking ahead, she noted that "digital is the make-or-break issue" and announced a new European Chips Act, bringing together Europe's world-class research, design and testing capacities and coordinating EU and national investments on semi-conductors.

On climate change, von der Leyen made clear that "since it is man-made, we can do something about it". She highlighted that, with the Green Deal, the EU was the first major economy to present comprehensive legislation in this area and promised to support developing countries by doubling funding for biodiversity and pledging an additional €4 billion for climate finance until 2027 to support their green transition.

State of the Union 2021 - President von der Leyen's speech

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