Tag Archives: SOTEU

#SOTEU: Photo reportage Strasbourg Plenary

Strasbourg 15.09.2021 Aleksy Witwicki photo reportage: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers her state of the union address #SOTEU at the European Parliament Plenary on Wednesday (15 September), outlining the future perspectives for the Commission policies.

Von der Leyen, a former German defence minister who took the reins of the EU executive two years ago charts some new policy or the 27 bloc, particularly underlining the importance of strategic thinking on the issues of Defence, security, and migration.

Unlike per predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker after the highly enthusiastic speech the president of the Commission preferred to avid the meeting with press, and left Strasbourg without media democratic scrutiny, confirming once again her reputation of “virtual” head of the Insitution.

#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Hemicycle European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org

#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021 Greetings. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org

#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 MEPs European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Coffee breake European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Sanitary COVID19 rules European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Vice-president Pedro Silva Pereira, European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Comissioner Didier Reynders interview, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org

#SOTEU: EU migration Pact slow motion

Strasbourg 15.09.2021 “… Look at what happened at our borders with Belarus. The regime in Minsk has instrumentalised human beings. They have put people on planes and literally pushed them towards Europe’s borders” the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said, while addressing the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg.

“This can never be tolerated. And the quick European reaction shows that. And rest assured, we will continue to stand together with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

“And, let’s call it what it is: this is a hybrid attack to destabilise Europe”.

“These are not isolated events. We saw similar incidents at other borders. And we can expect to see it again. This is why, as part of our work on Schengen, we will set out new ways to respond to such aggression and ensure unity in protecting our external borders. But as long as we do not find common ground on how to manage migration, our opponents will continue to target that.

“Meanwhile, human traffickers continue to exploit people through deadly routes across the Mediterranean.

“These events show us that every country has a stake in building a European migration system. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum gives us everything we need to manage the different types of situations we face.
All the elements are there. This is a balanced and humane system that works for all Member States – in all circumstances. We know that we can find common ground.

“But in the year since the Commission presented the Pact, progress has been painfully slow.
I think, this is the moment now for a European migration management policy. So I urge you, in this House and in Member States, to speed up the process.

“This ultimately comes down to a question of trust. Trust between Member States. Trust for Europeans that migration can be managed. Trust that Europe will always live up to its enduring duty to the most vulnerable and most in need.

“There are many strongly held views on migration in Europe but I believe the common ground is not so far away. Because if you ask most Europeans, they would agree that we should act to curb irregular migration but also act to provide a refuge for those forced to flee.”

“They would agree that we should return those who have no right to stay. But that we should welcome those who come here legally and make such a vital contribution to our society and economy”.

“And we should all agree that the topic of migration should never be used to divide. I am convinced that there is a way that Europe can build trust amongst us when it comes to migration”.

#SOTEU: EU towards European Defence Union

Strasbourg 15.09.2021 “..Witnessing events unfold in Afghanistan was profoundly painful for all the families of fallen servicemen and servicewomen” said the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen while delivering the State of the Union speech #SOTEU at Strasbourg plenary of the European Parliament.

“We bow to the sacrifice of those soldiers, diplomats and aid workers who laid down their lives.
To make sure that their service will never be in vain, we have to reflect on how this mission could end so abruptly.

“There are deeply troubling questions that allies will have to tackle within NATO.
But there is simply no security and defence issue where less cooperation is the answer. We need to invest in our joint partnership and to draw on each side’s unique strength.
This is why we are working with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on a new EU-NATO Joint Declaration to be presented before the end of the year. But this is only one part of the equation.

“Europe can – and clearly should – be able and willing to do more on its own. But if we are to do more, we first need to explain why. I see three broad categories.

“First, we need to provide stability in our neighbourhood and across different regions.
We are connected to the world by narrow straits, stormy seas and vast land borders. Because of that geography, Europe knows better than anyone that if you don’t deal in time with the crisis abroad, the crisis comes to you.

“Secondly, the nature of the threats we face is evolving rapidly: from hybrid or cyber-attacks to the growing arms race in space.Disruptive technology has been a great equaliser in the way power can be used today by rogue states or non-state groups.You no longer need armies and missiles to cause mass damage. You can paralyse industrial plants, city administrations and hospitals – all you need is your laptop. You can disrupt entire elections with a smartphone and an internet connection.

“The third reason is that the European Union is a unique security provider. There will be missions where NATO or the UN will not be present, but where the EU should be.

“On the ground, our soldiers work side-by-side with police officers, lawyers and doctors, with humanitarian workers and human rights defenders, with teachers and engineers.
We can combine military and civilian, along with diplomacy and development – and we have a long history in building and protecting peace.

“The good news is that over the past years, we have started to develop a European defence ecosystem.
But what we need is the European Defence Union.

“In the last weeks, there have been many discussions on expeditionary forces. On what type and how many we need: battlegroups or EU entry forces. This is no doubt part of the debate – and I believe it will be part of the solution. But the more fundamental issue is why this has not worked in the past.

“You can have the most advanced forces in the world – but if you are never prepared to use them – of what use are they? “What has held us back until now is not just a shortfall of capacity – it is the lack of political will. And if we develop this political will, there is a lot that we can do at EU level..”

SOTEU: Afghan Support Package in view

Strasbourg 15.09.2021 “…Recent events in Afghanistan are not the cause of this change – but they are a symptom of it” the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said, while delivering the State of Union speech at European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg.
“And first and foremost, I want to be clear. We stand by the Afghan people. The women and children, prosecutors, journalists and human rights defenders”.

“I think in particular of women judges who are now in hiding from the men they jailed. They have been put at risk for their contribution to justice and the rule of law. We must support them and we will coordinate all efforts with Member States to bring them to safety.

“And we must continue supporting all Afghans in the country and in neighbouring countries. We must do everything to avert the real risk of a major famine and humanitarian disaster. And we will do our part. We will increase again humanitarian aid for Afghanistan by 100 million euro.

“This will be part of a new, wider Afghan Support Package that we will present in the next weeks to combine all of our efforts” the president of the Commission concluded.

#SOTEU: Future of Europe debate

Strasbourg 14.09.2021 The State of the EU debate, looking at work to date and plans for the future, takes place on 15 September in Strasbourg. .

What is the State of the European Union debate?
The State of the European Union debate takes place every September when the president of the European Commission comes to the European Parliament to discuss with MEPs what the Commission has done over the past year, what it intends to do in the coming year and its vision for the future.

This is an opportunity for Parliament, the EU’s only directly-elected institution, to hold the European Commission to account. Members will scrutinise the Commission’s work and make sure that the key concerns of Europeans are addressed.
Why is the 2021 State of the EU debate important?
The priorities that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented during last year’s State of the European Union debate are still relevant: the EU continues its efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic and move towards social and economic recovery, while staying true to its flagship programmes, such as the European Green Deal and the Digital Strategy.

What is the best way to follow it?
The debate will be streamed live online on our website on Wednesday 15 September from 9.00 CET. Interpretation will be available in all 24 official EU languages – simply select the language of your choice. The Parliament together with the Commission will also stream the debate on Facebook.

You can also join the discussion on our other social media channels, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #SOTEU.

#SOTEU: Leyen on FOREIGN POLICY

On 16 September, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in her first State of the Union speech, shared her vision for a stronger Europe and a better world after the coronavirus pandemic. Every year in September, the President of the European Commission delivers the State of the Union address before the European Parliament, Strasbourg. However this year the event took place in Brussels due to the coronavirus restrictions in France. Part of the speech, although significantly reduced, was devoted to foreign policy and human rights.

Be it in Hong Kong, Moscow or Minsk: Europe must take a clear and swift position. I want to say it loud and clear: the European Union is on the side of the people of Belarus. We have all been moved by the immense courage of those peacefully gathering in Independence Square or taking part in the fearless women’s march” president von der Leyen said.

“The elections that brought them into the street were neither free nor fair. And the brutal response by the government ever since has been shameful.The people of Belarus must be free to decide their own future for themselves. They are not pieces on someone else’s chess board.

“To those that advocate closer ties with Russia, I say that the poisoning of Alexei Navalny with an advanced chemical agent is not a one off. We have seen the pattern in Georgia and Ukraine, Syria and Salisbury – and in election meddling around the world. This pattern is not changing – and no pipeline will change that.
Turkey is and will always be an important neighbour. But while we are close together on the map, the distance between us appears to be growing. Yes, Turkey is in a troubled neighbourhood. And yes, it is hosting millions of refugees, for which we support them with considerable funding. But none of this is justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbours.

“Our Member States, Cyprus and Greece, can always count on Europe’s full solidarity on protecting their legitimate sovereignty rights.

“De-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean is in our mutual interest. The return of exploratory vessels to Turkish ports in the past few days is a positive step in this direction. This is necessary to create the much needed space for dialogue. Refraining from unilateral actions and resuming talks in genuine good faith is the only path forward. The only path to stability and lasting solutions”.

#SOTEU: Leyen promises EU Magnitsky law

In her State of the Union #SOTEU #SOTEU2020 address on 16 September 2020, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen presented her vision for the European Union in post- pandemic period, tools for recovery, and sources for new vitality. In spite of the fact that the foreign policy of the EU has been overshadowed by the coronavirus issue, the ruptures in communications it has caused, and standstill in many areas, it stayed an integral part of the presentation, although in a rather sketchy way drawing the lines of the bloc foreign policy, with the accent of “planet fragility” and Climate Change.

One of the most courageous minds of our times, Andrei Sakharov – a man so admired by this House – always spoke of his unshakeable belief in the hidden strength of the human spirit. In these last six months, Europeans have shown how strong that human spirit really is. We saw it in the care workers who moved into nursing homes to look after the ill and the elderly. In the doctors and nurses who became family members for those in their last breath. In the front line workers who worked day after night, week after week, who took risks so most of us didn’t have to. We are inspired by their empathy, bravery and sense of duty – and I want to start this speech by paying tribute to them all. Their stories also reveal a lot about the state of our world and the state of our Union.They show the power of humanity and the sense of mourning which will live long in our society. And they expose to us the fragility all around us.
“A virus a thousand times smaller than a grain of sand exposed how delicate life can be’.

“It laid bare the strains on our health systems and the limits of a model that values wealth above well-being.
It brought into sharper focus the planetary fragility that we see every day through melting glaciers, burning forests and now through global pandemics. It changed the very way we behave and communicate – keeping our arms at length, our faces behind masks.It showed us just how fragile our community of values really is – and how quickly it can be called into question around the world and even here in our Union.
But people want to move out of this corona world, out of this fragility, out of uncertainty. They are ready for change and they are ready to move on. And this is the moment for Europe.
The moment for Europe to lead the way from this fragility towards a new vitality. And this is what I want to talk about today”.

In foreign policy the COVID-19 pandemic and world-wide vaccination have been addressed by the president vor der Leyen in the first place and became an issue of international politics:


“…In the pandemic, European planes delivering thousands of tonnes of protective equipment landed everywhere from Sudan to Afghanistan, Somalia to Venezuela. None of us will be safe until all of us are safe – wherever we live, whatever we have. An accessible, affordable and safe vaccine is the world’s most promising way to do that. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was no funding, no global framework for a COVID vaccine – just the rush to be the first to get one.This is the moment the EU stepped up to lead the global response. With civil society, the G20, WHO and others we brought more than 40 countries together to raise 16 billion euro to finance research on vaccines, tests and treatments for the whole world. This is the EU’s unmatched convening power in action. But it is not enough to find a vaccine. We need to make sure that European citizens and those around the world have access to it. Just this month, the EU joined the COVAX global facility and contributed 400 million euro to help ensure that safe vaccines are available not only for those who can afford it – but for everyone who needs it. Vaccine nationalism puts lives at risk. Vaccine cooperation saves them”.


On UN, WTO, conflicts in Libya and Syria:
“We are firm believers in the strength and value of cooperating in international bodies.It is with a strong United Nations that we can find long-term solutions for crises like Libya or Syria.It is with a strong World Health Organisation that we can better prepare and respond to global pandemics or local outbreaks – be it Corona or Ebola. And it is with a strong World Trade Organisation that we can ensure fair competition for all.But the truth is also that the need to revitalise and reform the multilateral system has never been so urgent. Our global system has grown into a creeping paralysis. Major powers are either pulling out of institutions or taking them hostage for their own interests. Neither road will lead us anywhere. Yes, we want change. But change by design – not by destruction.And this is why I want the EU to lead reforms of the WTO and WHO so they are fit for today’s world”.

EU-China relations:
“But we know that multilateral reforms take time and in the meantime the world will not stop.Without any doubt, there is a clear need for Europe to take clear positions and quick actions on global affairs.Two days ago, the latest EU-China leaders meeting took place.The relationship between the European Union and China is simultaneously one of the most strategically important and one of the most challenging we have.From the outset I have said China is a negotiating partner, an economic competitor and a systemic rival.
We have interests in common on issues such as climate change – and China has shown it is willing to engage through a high-level dialogue. But we expect China to live up to its commitments in the Paris Agreement and lead by example.There is still hard work to do on fair market access for European companies, reciprocity and overcapacity. We continue to have an unbalanced trade and investment partnership”.


Announcing of anti-semitsm as EU “issue”
“And there is no doubt that we promote very different systems of governance and society. We believe in the universal value of democracy and the rights of the individual. Europe is not without issues – think for example of anti-semitism. But we discuss them publicly. Criticism and opposition are not only accepted but are legally protected”.


On Hong Kong and Uygurs:
“So we must always call out human rights abuses whenever and wherever they occur – be it on Hong Kong or with the Uyghurs. But what holds us back? Why are even simple statements on EU values delayed, watered down or held hostage for other motives? When Member States say Europe is too slow, I say to them be courageous and finally move to qualified majority voting – at least on human rights and sanctions implementation.


Magnitsky Act proposal:
“This House has called many times for a European Magnitsky Act – and I can announce that we will now come forward with a proposal. We need to complete our toolbox”…

#SOTEU: Leyen delivers State of Union

Ahead of September 16 debate on the State of the European Union, lead MEPs will discuss the European Union’s priorities and react to questions and ideas from citizens. (Image: archive, Ursula von der Leyen).

As European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is to address the House on Wednesday, Parliament will hold a central live event the day before, on Tuesday 15 September, from 16.00 to 18.00, to be opened by Parliament Vice-President Katarina Barley (S&D, DE).
The live event will be webstreamed here, as well as on EbS.

After a quick catch-up session on the role of Members of the European Parliament, representatives from the political groups will present their own political priorities and expectations ahead of the debate.
The event will feature a debate with young Europeans with EP Vice-President Othmar Karas (EPP, AT), where they will discuss young people’s ideas for a better Europe.

The next debate will evolve around the major current topics in the European Parliament, with Committee Chair for Environment, Public Health and Food safety Pascal Canfin (Renew, FR) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chair David McAllister (EPP, DE).

A multilingual website encourages citizens to get involved and facilitates contact with MEPs. The EP Liaison Offices in the member states have organised over 150 online activities over three weeks.
The State of the European Union debate is a key moment to demonstrate the European Commission’s accountability towards the EU’s democratically elected representatives. It focuses on important issues like the coming economic recovery, climate change, youth unemployment and migration flows. This annual event is significant to promote a more transparent and democratic European Union. It is an opportunity to bring the European Union closer to the citizens, highlighting the year’s core action points and challenges. Citizens’ rights and the democratic process are at the heart of this unique plenary debate.

The EP central Facebook page will stream the debate in English, in addition to the regular streaming in all languages on the EP website. After the debate, a wrap-up video will be made available in 24 languages.

#SOTEU:Leyen delivers “State of Union”

Ahead September 16 debate on the State of the European Union, lead Members of the European Parliament will discuss the European Union’s priorities and react to questions and ideas from citizens. (Image: archive).

As European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is to address the House on September 16, Parliament will hold a central live event the day before, on Tuesday 15 September, from 16.00 to 18.00, to be opened by Parliament Vice-President Katarina Barley (S&D, DE).

The live event will be webstreamed here, as well as on EbS.

After a quick catch-up session on the role of Members of the European Parliament, representatives from the political groups will present their own political priorities and expectations ahead of the debate.

The event will feature a debate with young Europeans with EP Vice-President Othmar Karas (EPP, AT), where they will discuss young people’s ideas for a better Europe.
The next debate will evolve around the major current topics in the European Parliament, with Committee Chair for Environment, Public Health and Food safety Pascal Canfin (Renew, FR) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chair David McAllister (EPP, DE) .

A multilingual website encourages citizens to get involved and facilitates contact with MEPs. The EP Liaison Offices in the member states have organised over 150 online activities over three weeks.

The State of the European Union debate is a key moment to demonstrate the European Commission’s accountability towards the EU’s democratically elected representatives. It focuses on important issues like the coming economic recovery, climate change, youth unemployment and migration flows. This annual event is significant to promote a more transparent and democratic European Union. It is an opportunity to bring the European Union closer to the citizens, highlighting the year’s core action points and challenges. Citizens’ rights and the democratic process are at the heart of this unique plenary debate.

The EP central Facebook page will stream the debate in English, in addition to the regular streaming in all languages on the EP website. After the debate, a wrap-up video will be made available in 24 languages.