And Dishonourable ones.
Let me get straight to the point.
We are in unprecedented times. The most unprecedented ever. The unprecedentedness is unprecedented, one we could not have had the prescience to predict.
Europe is at a crossroads. And must serve as a bridge from the past to the future over these troubled waters if we are to find our lighthouse in these uncharted oceans.
What we need, and what we need to work towards, together, in a common effort that reflects the common challenges we face, is a concrete roadmap towards a better future, a more sustainable future, the most sustainable future in our shared history, a future that can last, sustainably, for the generations to come.
And that’s what I’m presenting to you today. A vision to a horizon that is only now coming into view as the dust starts to settle, but a horizon that we know is there, and that we know we must strive towards.
Fine words will only get us so far.
But in so far as they will get us so far, more fine words will get us further.
Actions will get us further still.
Which is why I intend to harness the power of both to present an agenda for action, made out of words. Lots of words about actions. Including words about targets that will require action plans of their own. Made up of words.
And I look to you, dear colleagues, to work with us to see these bold, ambitious, far-reaching action plans adopted, so we can get on with the work of implementation. For implementation is key, and will require clear guidance and a strategy to fulfill the objectives that this house and the council are currently working on. The commission stands ready to deliver on those objectives, once adopted, and to that end is drafting the guidance and strategy necessary and plans to present those to this house towards the middle of the next bimester.
But that’s not all we have planned as concrete priorities for the coming year.
Europe has a place in the world. An ever more globalised world and an ever more digitalised world in which you can like a tikchat or swap a myface in a matter of minutes with someone literally in another country, almost on the other side of the world.
Our citizens are ever more plugged in and outward looking, and they expect the same of us. The NetizenEU2025 initiative intends to ensure every citizen can have internets and to have those internets safeguarded in line with a common set of fundamental principles designed to help build a Europe of Internets and an Internets of Europe. Making Europe less reliant on Russian, American or Chinese internets remains a long-term target, a target we will set out in an action plan roadmap, with a concrete strategy for how to meet that target.
And just as Europe has a place in the world, it also must bear its responsibility for its place in the world and its impact on the world. The EU has lead the way on policies to prepare for a greener future and the transition to a smugger economy. Through more targets and strategies we can continue to be the global standard bearers for environmental policymaking. By 2035 we intend to increase environmental and climate policy by 55 percent on 1990 levels, surpassing the policy-making targets agreed by global leaders in Paris.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, a word on the pandemic and how the EU can harness its potential to be a driver for more Europe. Now is a time for action at EU level, a time of opportunity to seize the momentum towards a coordinated response to prepare for and safeguard against future pandemics of this kind. With the current pandemic still an immediate threat, with the lives and livelihoods of our citizens at stake, I am today calling for an urgent discussion about the outline actions we could consider, sometime next year.
I am aware this is an ambitious agenda, but if we don’t confront these challenges, these challenges will confront us.
If we fail to act, we act to fail, as someone never put it.
I look to a future in which the EU stands up and takes action on the key issues of the moment. With concrete plans for potential actions and clear-sighted strategies setting the parameters for a response at EU level that respects national competencies while adhering to commonly agreed principles with some exceptions and carve-outs, I look forward to driving this ambitious agenda forwards.