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EU pledges green recovery from COVID-19 crisis

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EUROPEAN Union President, Ursula von der Leyen, today  in Brussels vowed that a green recovery plan will lead Europe’s global search for a coronavirus vaccine while rebuilding its shattered economy.

Speaking during her first annual State of the European Union address, the European Commission boss warned Britain not to breach its Brexit withdrawal treaty and Turkey not to threaten its neighbours.

 “The people of Europe are still suffering.” Von der Leyen said, while recommitting to bloc in fighting racism and homophobia, denouncing the so-called LGBT-free zones set up by some towns in EU member state, Poland, and urging member states to step up for refugees.

  In an implicit swipe at US President Donald Trump’s approach to the pandemic, Von der Leyen said, Europe would lead the world in the search for vaccine and support multilateral bodies like the World Health Organisation.

  “None of us will be safe until all of us are safe. Wherever we live, whatever we have, vaccine nationalism puts lives at risk. Vaccine cooperation saves them.” she said.

Source says, Europe’s own economy has been devastated by the epidemic and the ensuing economic and social lockdowns, but von der Leyen touted her Commission’s green recovery plan as a way back.

  She said that Brussels would urge member states to set a more ambitious goal of cutting greenhouse emissions by 55 per cent by 2030, up from a target of 40 percent.

“For us, the 2030 target is ambitious, achievable, and beneficial for Europe” she added.

  Report says, the new target is backed by EU powers France and Germany, as well as big business, but faces resistance from eastern member states that depend on coal for their energy needs.

  “I will not rest when it comes to building a union of equality… a union where you can be who you are and love who you want, without fear of recrimination or discrimination,” Von der Leyen said.

  EU leaders will attempt to agree on the target at summit in October, which would then need the approval of European Parliament, where a majority of MEPs want a still more ambitious target.

Von der Leyen said that 30 per cent of spending from the 750-billion-euro ($890-billion) plan would be devoted to climate-friendly projects and financed through so-called green bonds.

  A number of Polish towns have declared themselves “LGBT ideology free zones”, and President Andrzej Duda has compared the struggle for equality to communism in terms of the alleged threat it poses to national values.

  Brussels has denounced this stance before, but von der Leyen’s speech went further as she vowed to push EU member states to recognise adoptions by same-sex couples across the bloc.

“If you are parent in one country, you are parent in every country,” she said.

Von der Leyen charged her European Commission to the fight against racism.

  “Hate is hate and no one should have to put up with it,” she said.

She vowed to use the EU budget to address discrimination in employment, housing and health care and to appoint an anti-racism coordinator.

  The 61-year-old former German Defence Minister also warned Turkey against trying to bully Greece and Cyprus, as tensions grow over energy reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

Issuing warning to countries stirring controversies in Europe, Von der Leyen lauded Ankara for being a key partner in doing important work, hosting refugees, but warned that “it is not justification for attempts to intimidate its neighbours”.

She warned Britain for threatening the peace in Northern Ireland by trying to override its Brexit withdrawal agreement.

 “With every day that passes, chances for a timely agreement do start to fade.

  The withdrawal agreement guarantees our citizens rights, financial interests, the integrity of the single market and crucially, the Good Friday Agreement.” She said.

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