“It is time for Europe to step up to the next level,” von der Leyen instructed the European Parliament, in her annual State of the European Union tackle.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron will convene the “summit on European defence” throughout France’s six-month presidency of the bloc, beginning on the New Year, she mentioned.
Paris has been main the push for the 27-nation union to develop more autonomous army capacities alongside the Western alliance, which is historically led by the US.
And the speedy collapse of Afghanistan’s authorities on the finish of the 20-12 months-outdated US-led mission in Afghanistan has intensified debate in Brussels’ concerning the EU’s function.
But most EU nations are additionally members of the NATO alliance and a few, significantly japanese states more uncovered to threats Russia, don’t need to undermine ties with the United States.
“Witnessing events unfold in Afghanistan was profoundly painful for the families and friends of fallen servicemen and servicewomen,” von der Leyen mentioned.
“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’s merely no safety and defence challenge the place much less cooperation is the reply.”
Von der Leyen vowed to work with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on a new EU-NATO joint declaration to be presented before the end of the year.
The EU’s video feed of von der Leyen’s address showed a picture of standing side-by-side and smiling with the NATO leader, but Stoltenberg has expressed scepticism over an autonomous EU strategy.
“Any try to determine parallel buildings, duplicate the command construction, that can weaken our joint functionality to work collectively,” Stoltenberg told UK daily The Telegraph last week.
In the short term, the EU chief pledged an additional 100 million euros ($118 million) in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan as the bloc grapples with the immediate fall-out of the Taliban’s takeover.
“We should do every little thing to avert the true danger that’s on the market of a significant famine and humanitarian catastrophe,” she said, insisting Europe “stands by the Afghan folks”.
The new promise comes after the European Commission — the EU executive — already quadrupled its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan for this year to 200 million euros as the country struggles to stave off collapse after the Taliban’s takeover.
Brussels has said that none of the aid will go to Afghanistan’s new rulers and has demanded the Taliban ensure access for humanitarian workers in the country.
Von der Leyen said the EU would set out in full its “new, wider Afghan help bundle” in the coming weeks.
In a wide-ranging speech, von der Leyen focused on bloc’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and effort to boost inoculations around the globe.
She said the EU would donate another 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to low-income countries, more than doubling its present pledge.
“With lower than one p.c of world doses administered in low earnings international locations, the dimensions of injustice and the extent of urgency is clear,” she said.
On the economic front, von der Leyen insisted that the bloc would not repeat the mistake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis by imposing sudden budgetary austerity as it emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Noting that last time it took the EU eight years to get back to pre-crisis levels, Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament in her annual State of the European Union address: “We is not going to repeat that mistake.”
She called the financial crisis “a cautionary story” in which “Europe declared victory too quickly and we paid the worth for that”.
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