A year is a long time in a pandemic.
When I stood in front of you 12 months ago, I did not know when – or even if – we would have a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19.
But today, and against all critics, Europe is among the world leaders.
More than 70 per cent of adults in the EU are fully vaccinated. We were the only ones to share half of our vaccine production with the rest of the world. We delivered more than 700 million doses to the European people, and we delivered more than another 700 million doses to the rest of the world, to more than 130 countries.
We are the only region in the world to achieve that.
A pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint.
We followed the science.
We delivered to Europe. We delivered to the world.
We did it the right way, because we did it the European way. And it worked!
But while we have every reason to be confident, we have no reason to be complacent.
Our first – and most urgent – priority is to speed up global vaccination.
With less than 1% of global doses administered in low-income countries, the scale of injustice and the level of urgency are obvious. This is one of the great geopolitical issues of our time.
Team Europe is investing one billion Euro to ramp up mRNA production capacity in Africa. We have already committed to share 250 million doses.
I can announce today that the Commission will add a new donation of another 200 million doses by the middle of next year.
This is an investment in solidarity – but also in global health.
The second priority is to continue our efforts here in Europe.
We see worrisome divergences in vaccination rates in our Union.
So we need to keep up the momentum.
And Europe is ready. We have 1.8 billion additional doses secured. This is enough for us and our neighbourhood when booster shots are needed. Let’s do everything possible to ensure that this does not turn into a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
The final priority is to strengthen our pandemic preparedness.
A EUROPE UNITED IN RESPONSIBILITY
This is a generation with a conscience. They are pushing us to go further and faster to tackle the climate crisis.
And events of the summer only served to explain why. We saw floods in Belgium and Germany. And wildfires burning from the Greek islands to the hills in France.
And if we don’t believe our own eyes, we only have to follow the science.
The UN recently published the IPCC report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is the authority on the science of climate change.
The report leaves no doubt. Climate change is man-made. But since it is man-made, we can do something about it.
As I heard it said recently: It’s warming. It’s us. We’re sure. It’s bad. But we can fix it.
And change is already happening.
More electric vehicles than diesel cars were registered in Germany in the first half of this year. Poland is now the EU’s largest exporter of car batteries and electric buses. Or take the New European Bauhaus that led to an explosion of creativity of architects, designers, engineers across our Union.
So clearly something is on the move.
And this is what the European Green Deal is all about.
In my speech last year, I announced our target of at least 55% emission reduction by 2030.
Since then we have together turned our climate goals into legal obligations.
And we are the first major economy to present comprehensive legislation in order to get it done.
You have seen the complexity of the detail. But the goal is simple. We will put a price on pollution. We will clean the energy we use. We will have smarter cars and cleaner airplanes.
And we will make sure that higher climate ambition comes with more social ambition. This must be a fair green transition. This is why we proposed a new Social Climate Fund to tackle the energy poverty that already 34 million Europeans suffer from.
I count on both Parliament and Member States to keep the package and to keep the ambition together.
When it comes to climate change and the nature crisis, Europe can do a lot. And it will support others. I am proud to announce today that the EU will double its external funding for biodiversity, in particular for the most vulnerable countries.
But Europe cannot do it alone.
Every country has a responsibility!
This climate and economic leadership is central to Europe’s global and security objectives.
It also reflects a wider shift in world affairs at a time of transition towards a new international order.
We are entering a new era of hyper-competitiveness.
An era in which some stop at nothing to gain influence: from vaccine promises and high-interest loans, to missiles and misinformation.
An era of regional rivalries and major powers refocusing their attention towards each other.
In a more contested world, protecting your interests is not only about defending yourself.
It is about forging strong and reliable partnerships. This is not a luxury – it is essential for our future stability, security and prosperity.
This work starts by deepening our partnership with our closest allies.
With the US we will develop our new agenda for global change – from the new Trade and Technology Council to health security and sustainability.
The EU and the US will always be stronger – together.
The same is true of our neighbours in the Western Balkans.
Before the end of the month, I will travel to the region to send a strong signal of our commitment to the accession process. We owe it to all those young people who believe in a European future.
This is why we are ramping up our support through our new investment and economic plan, worth around a third of the region’s GDP. Because an investment in the future of the Western Balkans is an investment in the future of the EU.
And we will also continue investing in our partnerships across our neighbourhood – from stepping up our engagement in the Eastern Partnership to implementing the new Agenda for the Mediterranean and continuing to work on the different aspects of our relationship with Turkey.