In an annual speech on the state of the bloc, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen triggered her response to the coronavirus but warned of a "pandemic of the unvaccinated ".
BRUSSELS - As Europeans try to capitalize on the gainsachieved by vaccination campaigns, the European Union pledged on Wednesday to strengthen its preparedness for future health crises and to increase donations of coronavirus vaccines to low and middle-income countries.
In her annual State of the European Union address, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the executive branch of the bloc, the European Commission, hailed the succeed in vaccinating its citizens after a difficult start. But she called global vaccinations the most urgent priority in the bloc, warning that large gaps between rich and developing countries could lead to a "pandemic of the unvaccinated ".
"With less than 1% of global doses administered in low-income countries, the amptheir injustice and level of urgency are evident, "Ms von der Leyen told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France on Wednesday.
In a wide-ranging speech, Ms von der Leyen addressed issues such as the climate emergency, the crisis in Afghanistan, economic recovery and technological competition, hailing the successes of the Union during the pandemic while recognizing its inconsistency tences and imperfections.
Mme. Von der Leyen's confident tone, alternating between English, French and German, was a strong contrast with his speech from last year , when new cases of Covid-19 were ravaging the block and the vaccines were months away.
"L 'last year it was in crisis mode "said Camino Mortera-Martinez, senior researcher at the Center for European Reform, a think tank in Brussels. " This year she said we had to look towards the future. "
Despite first missteps and criticisms of the vaccine procurement process by the European Union Commission, which negotiated the doses on behalf of the EU to 27 countries, over 70% of the adult population in the block has now been fully vaccinated. Image A vaccination center in Sei xal, Portugal, thelast week. Over 70% of the adult population of the European Union has now been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Credit ... Patricia De Melo Moreira / Agence France-Presse - Images
This placed the European Union among the world leaders in immunization said Ms von der Leyen, although she admitted he faced wide gaps through the block, like several Eastern European countries are far behind.
To prepare for any future pandemic, she announced the creation of a new biomedical agency , the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority, which it claims aims to "ensure that no virus will ever turn a local epidemic into a global pandemic again".
However, it was not clear how the agency would operate in practice, as health policy remains a prerogative of national governments and the European Commission only had limited influence in the past. The bloc also has two existing health agencies, the European Medicines Agency and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Ms von der Leyen also explained how Europe had been disappointed by the chaotic evacuation of American and European troops from Afghanistan , calling it a symptom of an era marked by" regional rivalries and great powers refocusing their attention on each other. others ".
The failure of Afghanistan has raised" troubling questions "for NATO, she added, pointing out argue that Europe should act faster to develop data a long-proposed" European Defense Union with better coordination of forces and increased sharing of forces information between Member States, which have resisted sharing of sensitive data in the past. The coronavirus pandemic›
Ms von der Leyen also announced an EU defense summit next year, during the bloc's six-month French presidency starting in January , and a joint declaration with NATO before the end of the year. A Europe better able to defend itself has been a constant theme of Emmanuel Macron, the French president, who will be re-elected in April. Image Taliban fighters at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, this month. Mrs von der Leyen reiterated her wishes to increase humanitarian aid to the country of 100 million euros, or about 118 million dollars. Credit ... Jim Huylebroek for Hfrance.fr
Ms. von der Leyen also reiterated previous wishes that the EU European Union would increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan by 100 million euros, or around 118 million dollars, and said that this would be part of a larger support program for the country that would combine various European efforts.
She did not mention the widespread European fears of 'a new migration crisis, saying only that the bloc "would continue to support Afghans in neighboring countries", probably to encourage them to stay there.
Ms. . von der Leyen also said that if 750 billion euros stimulus fund of the coronavirus adopted last year allowed the eurozone to overtake the United States and China in terms of growth in the last quarter, Europe had to do more to secure its economic future. For example, she said the block needs to reduce its reliance on semiconductors, which are mostly made in Asia, and proposed a European chip law to coordinate production and sourcing for strategic and business reasons.
Understanding vaccine and mask mandates in the United States
- Rules for vaccins . August 23rd Food and Drug Announcement Ministry has granted full approval for Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine for ages 16 and over, paving the way for a increased mandates in both the public and private sectors. Private companies must increasingly demand vaccines for employees. Such mandates are legally permitted And have been confirmed in court challenges.
- Mask rules . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July recommended that all Americans, regardless of their immunization status, wear masks in indoor public places in areas affected by epidemics, a reversal of directions he proposed in May. See where the C.D.C. directives would apply , and where states have instituted their own mask policies . The battle over masks has become controversial in some states, with some local leaders defy state bans .
- Colleges and universities. Over 400 colleges and universities require students to be vaccinated against Covid19. Almost all of them are in states that voted for President Biden .
- Schools . Both California and New York have introduced warrants vaccination for educational staff. A survey released in August found that many American parents of school-aged children are opposed to compulsory vaccines for students, but were more supportive of mask mandates for students, teachers, and staff who do not have their vaccines.
- Hospitals and medical centers . Many hospitals and large health systems are demanding that their employees get a Covid -19 vaccine, citing an increase in the number of cases fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their hand -working.
- New York . Proof of vaccination is required from workers and customers for indoor meals, gyms, performances and other indoor situations, although the application doesn't start until September 13. Teachers and other education workers in the city's vast school system will need to have at least one dose of vaccine by September 27, with no possibility of weekly testing. City hospital staff must also be vaccinated or be subjected to a weekly bite. Similar rules are in place for New York State employees.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon has announced it will seek to render compulsory coronavirus vaccinations for 1.3 million active duty soldiers "no later than " by mid-September. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees would be required be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to regular testing, social distancing , mask requirements and restrictions on most trips.
Ms. von der Leyen, focusing on the need for greater solidarity between member countries waited until the end of his speech to raise the controversial issue of respect for the rule of law. The sensitive subject opposed the European Commission against Poland and Hungary on judicial independence, minority rights and media freedom.
But it doesn'tHe did not make it stand out among those eastern countries, speaking instead of "worrying developments in some member states ". The bloc administration hardened its stance this month, calling for the EU summit. court to impose financial penalties on Poland.
Ms. von der Leyen underlined the importance of dialogue on thorny issues with member states, which some critics find too complacent, given the stakes.
" This commission has been clear that Europe should defend i Its values, but more outward-looking than inward-looking, which I find problematic, "said Sophie Pornschlegel, policy analyst at the European Policy Center based in Brussels. "It may sound hypocritical. Image A shipment of willccins against the coronavirus delivered as part of the Covax initiative to help the poorest countries arrived in Pristina, Kosovo, in March. Credit ... Agence France-Presse - Images
And even on vaccines, EU nations have so far failed to keep their promises to help immunize poorer nations. Although Ms von der Leyen has pledged to deliver an additional 200 million doses by mid-2022, in addition to the 250 million doses already pledged by the end of the year, countries in the bloc had only given 21 million doses in early September, according to Commission figures.
The bloc instead focused on the export of vaccines - about 700 million - at a time when most countries that produced vaccines were accumulating them. For yournt, most of these doses were sent to richer countries, such as Britai n, Japan and South Korea.
"The gap between the beautiful rhetoric of the EU on stopping the Covid-19 pandemic and its actions is in an embarrassing way, "said Dr Christos Christou, international president of Doctors Without Borders.
Guntram Wolff, director of Bruegel, a Brussels-based research institution, said that despite good intentions there were significant logistical challenges involved in put some doses in guns in the poorest countries .
"The same story is repeated all over the world: no one is safe until 'everyone is safe, "he said. " In a way, little iWhether in Chad or Bulgaria. "
Steven Erlanger contributed to the report.