President von der Leyen at the State of the Union conference, hosted by the European University Institute

This morning, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen gave a speech at the 10th anniversary edition of the State of the Union conference, hosted by the European University Institute, via videoconference. President von der Leyen called for a European Renaissance, to overcome the crisis and deliver for the future of Europe’s citizens. Looking back on the past year, the President said: “Today, the enormous gains delivered by our unity are obvious for everybody. We see that our European vaccination campaign is a success.” 200 million doses of vaccines have been distributed in the EU so far. Noting that Europe exports vaccines to over 90 countries, President von der Leyen made clear that Europe remains open for business: “Europe achieved this success, while remaining open to the world. While others keep their vaccine production for themselves, Europe is the main exporter of vaccines worldwide. So far, 200 million doses of vaccines produced in Europe have been shipped to the rest of the world. Europe exports as many vaccines as it delivers to its own citizens. To be clear, Europe is the only democratic region in the world that exports vaccines on a large scale. The European Union is also ready to discuss any proposal that addresses the crisis in an effective and pragmatic manner. That is why we are ready to discuss how the U.S. proposal for a waiver on intellectual property protection for COVID-19 vaccines could help achieve that objective. In the short run, however, we call upon all vaccine producing countries to allow exports and to avoid measures that disrupt supply chains.” Ahead of the Global Health Summit due to take place on 21 May, she also urged for cooperation on the global health preparedness: “We must now move from the ad-hoc solutions of this year, towards a sustainable system. A system that works for the whole world. Because viruses know no borders. In Rome, we want to discuss international cooperation in health emergencies. Yes, preparedness comes at a cost. But the cost of preparedness is tiny compared to the cost of inaction. The world needs a new beginning on health policy. And our health Renaissance begins in Rome.” The speech is available online and you can watch it here.