President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, spoke in the European Parliament plenary this morning, at the debate on the conclusions of the Special European Council meeting of 17-21 July 2020. President von der Leyen called the agreement reached “an enormous achievement” and “a European investment in our European Union”. “I believe NextGenerationEU can be one of the largest stimulus for investment and reforms anywhere in the world – investing in roll out 5G, grid infrastructure, in AI and industrial digitisation, in renewables, sustainable transport, energy efficient buildings. This is how we fight climate change and modernise!” The President emphasised that the European Parliament will play its full role: “This House will have its full say on the design of the Facility and how it works. The Commission will ensure full transparency.” The President also praised the agreement on new own resources: “We have a clear timetable and we have them linked to repayment. This is a huge and historic step for our Union – which both the Commission and the Parliament have long been pushing for. We have no time to waste. The Commission will come forward with a package of new own resources.” Highlighting the importance of protecting our values, and in particular the rule of Law, the President announced: “We will look into our 2018 rule of law proposal. We will work together with the co-legislators to ensure that our 2018 proposal is taken forward and where necessary, improved.”While regretting the adjustments made to some programmes – “There are regrettable and painful decisions on many programmes, which have crucial European added value” – President von der Leyen emphasised that “we now have a massive and unprecedented financial firepower. €1.8 trillion.We should not lose sight of this bigger picture.” Finally, the President underlined the importance of staying united in the response to this crisis: “We now have the chance to achieve something historic for Europe. The pressure of the crisis has opened doors which had long been closed. As sad as the occasion is, this is also an opportunity for Europe, for our community. NextGenerationEU is a great sign of solidarity. Because NextGenerationEU is based on the community method, it will help heal wounds and bring us together. This time, we bear the weight of the responsibility for Europe’s fate and the future opportunities of our children together, on all of our shoulders.” The speech is available online. You can also watch it on EbS.