2021 State of the Union Address by President von der Leyen

“Check against delivery”

SOTEU 2021

The original version of the speech is available here.


A pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint.

We followed the science.
We delivered to Europe. We delivered to the world.
We did it the right waybecause we did it the European wayAnd it worked!

But while we have every reason to be confident, we have no reason to be complacent.

Our first – and most urgent – priority is to speed up global vaccination.

With less than 1% of global doses administered in low-income countries, the scale of injustice and the level of urgency are obvious. This is one of the great geopolitical issues of our time.

Team Europe is investing one billion Euro to ramp up mRNA production capacity in Africa. We have already committed to share 250 million doses.

I can announce today that the Commission will add a new donation of another 200 million doses by the middle of next year.

This is an investment in solidarity – but also in global health.

The second priority is to continue our efforts here in Europe.

We see worrisome divergences in vaccination rates in our Union.

So we need to keep up the momentum.

And Europe is ready. We have 1.8 billion additional doses secured. This is enough for us and our neighbourhood when booster shots are needed. Let’s do everything possible to ensure that this does not turn into a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

The final priority is to strengthen our pandemic preparedness.

Last year, I said it was time to build a European Health Union. Today we are delivering. With our proposal we get the HERA authority up and running.

This will be a huge asset to deal with future health threats earlier and better.

We have the innovation and scientific capacity, the private sector knowledge, we have competent national authorities. And now we need to bring all of that together, including massive funding.

So I am proposing a new health preparedness and resilience mission for the whole of the EU. And it should be backed up by Team Europe investment of EUR 50 billion by 2027.

To make sure that no virus will ever turn a local epidemic into a global pandemic. There is no better return on investment than that. 


We have made ambitious proposals in the last year.

To contain the gatekeeper power of major platforms;

To underpin the democratic responsibility of those platforms;

To foster innovation;

To channel the power of artificial intelligence.


Digital is the make-or-break issue. And Member States share that view. Digital spending in NextGenerationEU will even overshoot the 20% target.

That reflects the importance of investing in our European tech sovereignty. We have to double down to shape our digital transformation according to our own rules and values.

Allow me to focus on semi-conductors, those tiny chips that make everything work: from smartphones and electric scooters to trains or entire smart factories.

There is no digital without chips. And while we speak, whole production lines are already working at reduced speed – despite growing demand – because of a shortage of semi-conductors.

But while global demand has exploded, Europe’s share across the entire value chain, from design to manufacturing capacity has shrunk. We depend on state-of-the-art chips manufactured in Asia.

So this is not just a matter of our competitiveness. This is also a matter of tech sovereignty. So let’s put all of our focus on it.

We will present a new European Chips Act. We need to link together our world-class research, design and testing capacities. We need to coordinate EU and national investment along the value chain.

The aim is to jointly create a state-of-the-art European chip ecosystem, including production. That ensures our security of supply and will develop new markets for ground-breaking European tech.

Yes, this is a daunting task. And I know that some claim it cannot be done.

But they said the same thing about Galileo 20 years ago.

And look what happened. We got our act together. Today European satellites provide the navigation system for more than 2 billion smartphones worldwide. We are world leaders. So let’s be bold again, this time with semi-conductors.


Strengthening Schuman’s European ideal that I invoked earlier is a continuous work.

And we should not hide away from our inconsistencies and imperfections.

But imperfect as it might be, our Union is both beautifully unique and uniquely beautiful.

It is a Union where we strengthen our individual liberty through the strength of our community.

A Union shaped as much by our shared history and values as by our different cultures and perspectives.

A Union with a soul.

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