European Law Monitor

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newsStatement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel ahead of the G7 Summit

Indeed, we are very much looking forward to have this G7 Summit again, finally, to have the G7 countries, like-minded countries, that share the same values, that share the same interest and that share also the same worldview. So it is good that the U.S. are back and it is good that the G7, by this, is back again too.

We have a very broad agenda. These three days are really packed. So I want to focus on some of the topics: The economic impact of the crisis, we will look at that. We will, of course, also look at the international environment, the rules-based system. We will look at the global education status, health, of course, and climate.

So on the economy: At the beginning, we will discuss, as G7, how the state of play is and how we view the progress in our economies and what the best approach could be. And we have not forgotten – you will all remember, a year ago – how threatening this health crisis was and still is for our economies. It had the potential to turn into a massive economic crisis. Interestingly, if we look at the European Union, we tackled the economic fallout from the pandemic, from this crisis, much better than, for example, compared to the last big crisis, the financial crisis, in 2008.

And why was this the case? It was the case because the European Union, after the last big crisis, drew the necessary conclusions from this crisis and developed effective tools. So when this pandemic and this economic crisis hit, we were able to establish very fast a diagnosis of the economic fallout. We came very fast to a consensus on the necessary remedial action. And then we could act forcefully on all fronts. If you look at the Member States, we enabled the Member States to act swiftly, for example through the general escape clause, through the Temporary state aid Framework and the complete flexibilisation of the EU budget. And we enabled the European level to act forcefully and swiftly, at the beginning with SURE and now with NextGenerationEU.

And we will have a look at the G7 overall. Interestingly, if you take together the whole financial, fiscal support in the European Union, if you look at the plans or what has been done in 2020, 2021 and 2022, there is an amount to fiscal support equivalent to 18% of GDP in Europe, and this is completely on par with the United States. If you look at the plans of the United States, that sum up to 20% of GDP fiscal support in 2020, 2021 and 2022. We will certainly discuss that topic.

The second important factor why we come back better is that, when the crisis hit, the European Union had just put in place its plans concerning our priorities: The European Green Deal, the digitisation and resilience. And the crisis proved us right in the priorities we had set. Thus, our spending goes into investment for green and digital transition and into resilience. And the plan was there, the roadmap was there and we could immediately act.

But of course, we are also open economies, so our prosperity therefore will depend on our partners' response to the crisis. So I am very much looking forward to the G7 confirming that there will be continued parallelism of our approaches, and in particular in maintaining fiscal support.

Now to the second topic, of course, the G7 will also look at the risks and threats to the recovery by the international environment we have. And here two points stand out: First of all, the economic resilience. Domestically, there too, we have developed over the past month our tools to guard ourselves against risks. So to defend an open society, to have economic exchange, but not at any cost. For example, if you look at our tool of the 5G toolbox or the dual-use exports controls, but also the FDI screening. We have now in place our proposal to block distortive foreign subsidies.

And the second topic, of course, will be that we will guard the respect for our values. We want cooperation, we want the lively exchange, but on the basis of democratic values and on the basis of fundamental rights. And for that, too, we have developed over the last month our tools, for example the global human rights sanctions regime, or our forthcoming proposal for an anti-coercion instrument. And of course, the whole tool set of human-centric approach to the digital world. You know it, it is the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act and the Regulation on AI that is human-centred. We know that China and Russia are particular sources of concern in those areas. And therefore, the G7 countries are, finally again, united and determined to protect and to promote our values.

The next topic we will look at is the best way to defend our values and to promote our values. And that is to reinforce a strong and rules-based multilateralism. And with the return of the United States to a global arena, we are very much looking forward to the G7 backing effective action to strengthen multilateralism. We need effective WTO rules making, including a G7 commitment to help reform the WTO and the entire rules-based system.

And we also need to strengthen our G7 partnership with developing countries. For example on connectivity, as we have already agreed, for example, with Japan and India. Here too, coordination with G7 partners can help to maximise the benefits of our investments, from an economic, but also sustainability and political point of view. But even more important than the investments in infrastructure – they are important – are also the investments in people.

And here, let me have a look at the G7's emphasis on education for development. COVID-19 has led to one of the worst education crisis in history for children around the world. And we know that especially girls and young women are at risk because of the pandemic. Around 11 million girls from pre-primary to secondary school are at risk of not returning to school, with all the consequences behind that for their lives. And this is a bitter legacy of COVID-19. And we must join forces to secure the perspectives of young girls and women.

And therefore, the European Union strongly subscribes to the objective of 40 million more girls in schools by 2026 and 20 million more girls reading by age ten or end of primary school. And for that, we need sustainable financing. We have for that the Global Partnership for Education and this should be underpinned by, as I said, sustainable financing. So I am glad to announce that the European Commission will increase its contribution by 32%. Last MFF, we contributed EUR 68 million per year – that was, over the period of seven years, then EUR 475 million. Now we will raise this contribution to EUR 100 million per year – that is an overall of EUR 700 million over the period of seven years, our MFF.

But we will also not forget the most urgent of necessities, that is the fight against hunger. Here as well, the European Commission will step up to the plate by providing EUR 250 million of new humanitarian funding targeting acute food insecurity in the Sahel, East Africa, Central African Republic, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Turning towards the topic of health. We do subscribe to the G7 aim to end the pandemic by 2022 by stepping up the global vaccination. The European Union has from the beginning contributed massively to this. You know the figures. Since vaccines became available, the European Union has acted. Not only that we, at the very beginning, with friends created the ACT-Accelerator and COVAX, but we pledged heavily for it. But we also have from the beginning ensured that the domestic vaccination goes hand in hand with exports to the rest of the world.

And we have good news. Today in Europe, more than 50% of the adult population have received at least one shot. And, even better, today 100 million Europeans are fully vaccinated. We achieved that whilst never stopping export. From the 700 million doses that have been produced in the European Union, since last December, roughly 350 million doses have been exported to over 90 countries. And a few weeks ago, I invited others to also participate and practise openness. And I am very glad to see that the draft communiqué reflects this now and it is very encouraging to listen to the potential announcements of the Unites States.

Beyond 2022, it is not just about sharing vaccines, but it will be also about developing manufacturing capacity in Africa. You know that Team Europe announced indeed EUR 1 billion of support to develop manufacturing capacity in Africa. Here is important not only to bring the mRNA technology for vaccines against COVID-19 to Africa, but also to bring this technology to Africa because it is very promising for other infectious diseases, for example tuberculosis or for example malaria. So there is an enormous good case to make sure that there are different manufacturing hubs being developed in different regions of Africa.

Finally on climate: We committed to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. I welcome that the G7 countries are also aiming in this direction. But I want to be very clear: Even a world that is just 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than today will be much worse than today. And therefore, adaptation policies must be a central element of our climate policies, in the European Union but also of course with our partner countries. We acknowledge their specific needs. And in fact, the European Union already spends about half of its development finance on projects that support at the same time development and adaptation to climate change.

But, on top of this, as you know, we have this climate financing. So we support the G7 objective of USD 100 billion per year on climate financing. Team Europe has consistently contributed USD 25 billion over the last three years. And we will come up with a renewed commitment for the Glasgow COP26 on that topic too.

That was a lot. Thanks for your patience.  

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