State of the Union 2021

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At the 10th anniversary of the event, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, has given today her second ‘State of the Union Address’ at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This annual event is significant to demonstrate the European Commission’s accountability towards the EU’s democratically elected representatives, the Members of the European Parliament, and to be able to debate on the vision and roadmap that the European Commission is proposing.

In her speech, she has given an overview on what the Commission has been doing since last year’s address and what plans they have for the future. Moreover, this was backed up by producing several Factsheets of the work done so far with a list of its Achievements. For agriculture, the newly reformed common agricultural policy is mentioned, which should “enable European farming to become greener, fairer and more flexible”.

Much like the previous edition, the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic dominated the opening of the speech. It included the topics of health with now the successful vaccination rollout, the digital health certificate and thus the aftermath/recovery. Here she underlined the proposal for “a new health preparedness and resilience mission for the whole of the EU” to stop the next pandemic from happening, which should be backed up by Team Europe investment of EUR 50 billion by 2027. 

Other issues included, the state of the single market, uptake of digital (5G and the European Chips Act), social pillar, climate change, Afghanistan, cyber security, common defence, partnership with the world, migration and rule of law.

In parallel to this, the Commission has also sent a Letter of Intent to the European Parliament, and the Presidency of the Council regarding its next upcoming legislative and other initiatives, such as the “Legislative proposal on carbon removal certification” for example. See the full list here.

The 2020 edition had the declaration of the -55% target for emission reduction and that by next summer, the Commission shall revise all of the climate and energy legislation to make it “fit for 55”. They will enhance emission trading, boost renewable energy, improve energy efficiency, reform energy taxation. This has been now indeed realized in the “Fit for 55” package, for which von der Leyen has said the goal is simple: “put a price on pollution, clean the energy we use, have smarter cars and cleaner airplanes”. Furthermore, she has asked the co-legislators to “keep the package and its ambition together”.

In her speech last year, she did not mention agriculture, farming or food production explicitly, just in the context of precision farming or that farmers had received funding as a support too. This lack of the topic has been criticized by MEPs, who sit in the AGRI Committee. However, in this year’s speech there wasn’t even a single reference on agriculture or the food systems despite the constant background theme of the need for a sustainable transition in the Green Deal. One notable mention came only from Philippe Lamberts (Greens), who lashed out on the CAP being “deaf and blind to climate and biodiversity issues”, while the Commission has stated the importance of this year’s COP in Glasgow and has made the new pledge to double its external funding for biodiversity.

Find the Commission’s document attached to this email and the link to the full speech is available at: