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State of the Union 2021

Every year, the President of the European Commission delivers the State of the Union address

Charting the course for the year ahead

In her State of the Union address on 15 September 2021, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen outlined flagship initiatives which the Commission plans to undertake in the coming year. They will among others include:

  • Continuing the vaccination efforts in Europe and speeding up vaccination globally, as well as strengthening the pandemic preparedness
  • Working on closing the climate finance gap, together with our global partners
  • Leading the digital transformation that will create jobs and drive competitiveness, while ensuring technical excellence and security of supply
  • Ensuring fairer working conditions and better healthcare, and creating more opportunities for Europe’s youth to benefit from the European social market economy
  • Stepping up our cooperation on security and defence, and deepening EU’s partnership with closest allies
  • Defending European values and freedoms, and protecting the rule of law
State of the Union 2021 - President von der Leyen's speech
State of the Union 2021 - President von der Leyen's speech, multilingual version


Proposed initiatives

On 15 September, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also sent a Letter of Intent to David Sassoli, the President of the European Parliament, and Prime Minister Janez Janša, as the Presidency of the Council, in which she detailed the actions the Commission intends to take in the following year by means of legislation and other initiatives.


State of the Union 2021 - President von der Leyen's letter of intent


Von der Leyen Commission: Achievements 2020-2021

After one of the toughest years in its history, Europe looks towards the future with renewed hope.

Since the autumn of 2020, the pandemic has hit us again with even greater force. In response, the European Union redoubled its efforts – particularly to procure vaccines for all Europeans, to strengthen international cooperation against the pandemic, and to lead Europe out of the crisis and into the recovery with NextGenerationEU. 

Here is a retrospective of the past year, encompassing our efforts to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and our work to deliver on all political priorities, from the European Green Deal and Europe’s Digital Decade, to our actions on safety, democracy and health for Europe’s citizens.

State of the Union 2021 – Achievements 2020-2021


Key moments

  1. August 2021
    • 522.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in the EU since December 2020, and more than 250 million EU citizens are fully vaccinated. (25 August)
  2. July 2021
    • Beating financial crime: the Commission overhauls anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism rules. (20 July)
    • 2021 Rule of Law: EU report shows positive developments in Member States but also points to serious concerns. (20 July)
    • The new EU forest strategy aims to ensure healthy and resilient forests that contribute significantly to biodiversity and climate goals. (16 July)
    • The Commission adopts a package of proposals to make the EU’s climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. (14 July)
    • To increase its level of ambition on sustainable finance, the Commission adopts the European Green Bond Standard proposal creating a high-quality voluntary standard for bonds financing sustainable investment. (6 July)
  3. June 2021
    • At the Summit in Brussels, the EU and US leaders commit to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and driving forward the global recovery. (15 June)
    • The Commission proposes a framework for a trusted and secure European digital identity that will be available to all EU citizens, residents and businesses. (3 June)
    • The Commission presents a new strategy to make the largest free travel area in the world – the Schengen area – stronger and more resilient. (2 June)
    • The launch of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, a new chapter in fighting cross-border crime. (1 June)
  4. May 2021
    • The own-resources decision is ratified by all Member States, enabling the Commission to start borrowing to finance the recovery under NextGenerationEU. (31 May)
    • The EU outlines a EUR 3 billion economic support package for a future democratic Belarus. (28 May)
    • The Commission presents guidance to strengthen the Code of Practice on Disinformation, the first such tool worldwide. (26 May)
    • EUR 14.1 billion is disbursed to 12 Member States as the seventh instalment of financial support under the SURE instrument. SURE has so far benefited up to 30 million workers and 2.5 million firms. The EU has already provided a total of around EUR 90 billion to 19 Member States. (25 May)
    • At the Global Health Summit co-hosted by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, G20 leaders commit to a series of actions to accelerate the end of the COVID-19 crisis everywhere and to better prepare for future pandemics. (21 May)
    • Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces a EUR 1 billion Team Europe initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa. (21 May)
    • EU Member States agree to reopen to vaccinated travellers from outside the EU. (20 May)
    • The Commission signs a third contract with the pharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Pfizer, reserving an additional 1.8 billion doses of their vaccine on behalf of all EU Member States between the end of 2021 and 2023. (20 May)
    • A communication on business taxation for the 21st century is adopted to promote a robust, efficient and fair business tax system in the EU. (18 May)
    • The European Green Deal: the Commission proposes a sustainable blue economy in the EU for industries and sectors connected to oceans, seas and coasts. (17 May)
    • At the Summit on Financing African Economies, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces a Team Europe initiative in support of Africa’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. (15 May)
    • To steer the EU towards the 2050 goal of a healthy planet for healthy people, the Commission adopts the EU action plan ‘Towards zero pollution for air, water and soil’. (12 May)
    • On Europe Day 2021, the inaugural event of the Conference on the Future of Europe takes place in Strasbourg. (9 May)
    • At the EU–India Leaders’ Meeting in Porto, and via videoconference, the EU and India conclude a comprehensive connectivity partnership, confirming their commitment to collaborate on supporting resilient and sustainable connectivity both in India and in third countries and regions. (8 May)
    • The EU institutions, the European social partners and civil-society organisations pledge to do their utmost to build a more inclusive, more social Europe at the Social Summit in Porto. (7-8 May)
    • The EU’s industrial strategy is updated to ensure that Europe’s industrial ambition takes full account of the new circumstances following the COVID-19 crisis and helps drive the transformation to a more sustainable, digital, resilient and globally competitive economy. (5 May)
  5. April 2021
    • Sustainable finance and EU taxonomy: the Commission takes further steps to channel money towards sustainable activities. (21 April)
    • The Commission proposes new rules and actions for excellence and trust in artificial intelligence, aiming to turn the EU into the global hub for trustworthy artificial intelligence. (21 April)
    • The new partnership agreement between the EU and members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States sets out the framework for political, economic and sectorial cooperation for the next 20 years. (15 April)
    • To disrupt the cross-border business models of criminal organisations, the Commission presents an EU strategy to tackle organised crime, together with a new strategy on combating trafficking in human beings, intended to help prevent crime, bring traffickers to justice and empower victims. (14 April)
  6. March 2021
    • The European Green Deal: the Commission presents measures to boost organic production. (25 March)
    • The EU sets out a new comprehensive policy framework to ensure that all children’s rights are protected and proposes to establish a European Child Guarantee. (24 March)
    • The European Innovation Council is launched to help turn scientific ideas into breakthrough innovations. (18 March)
    • The Commission proposes the creation of a digital certificate to facilitate safe and free movement within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. (17 March)
    • The fourth safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is authorised for use in the EU. (11 March)
    • European Parliament President, David Sassoli, Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa, on behalf of the Presidency of the Council, and Commission President von der Leyen sign the Joint Declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe. (10 March)
    • Europe’s Digital Decade: the Commission sets course towards a digitally empowered Europe by 2030. (9 March)
    • European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan sets out an ambition for a strong social Europe. (4 March)
    • Pay transparency: the Commission presents a proposal on pay transparency to ensure that women and men in the EU get equal pay for equal work. (4 March)
    • A Union of equality: the Commission presents its 2021–2030 strategy for the rights of persons with disabilities, to ensure their full participation in society. (3 March)
  7. February 2021
    • At the G7 Summit, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces the doubling of the EU’s contribution to COVAX, the world’s facility for universal access to vaccines, from EUR 500 million to EUR 1 billion. (19 February)
    • The Commission sets out an open, sustainable and assertive EU trade policy for the coming years. (18 February)
    • A new strategy is presented to strengthen the EU’s contribution to rules-based multilateralism. (17 February)
    • To prepare Europe for the threat of new variants, the Commission proposes a new bio-defence preparedness plan, the HERA incubator. (17 February)
    • The European Parliament confirms the political agreement reached on the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU. (10 February)
    • The EU proposes a new agenda for the Mediterranean, to strengthen the strategic partnership with its Southern Neighbourhood partners. (9 February)
  8. January 2021
    • The Commission authorises the third safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19. (29 January)
    • The Commission puts in place a transparency and authorisation mechanism for the export of COVID-19 vaccines. (29 January)
    • The Commission launches the design phase of the ‘New European Bauhaus’ initiative, aiming to combine design, sustainability and investment to help deliver the European Green Deal. (18 January)
  9. December 2020
    • The first Europeans are vaccinated against COVID-19. (27 December)
    • After intensive negotiations, the Commission reaches an agreement with the United Kingdom on the terms of its future relationship with the EU. (24 December)
    • The Commission authorises the first safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19. (21 December)
    • The EU’s long-term budget for 2021– 2027, amounting to EUR 1.211 trillion in current prices, is adopted in the Council. (17 December)
    • The Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act: an ambitious reform of the digital space is proposed, along with a comprehensive set of new rules for all digital services. (15 December)
    • The European Green Deal: a proposal is made for a regulation on sustainable batteries for a circular and climate-neutral economy. (10 December)
    • The Commission presents a European democracy action plan to empower citizens and build more-resilient democracies across the EU. (3 December)
    • EU–US relations: the EU proposes a new, forward-looking transatlantic agenda for global cooperation. (2 December)
  10. November 2020
    • gender action plan is put forward to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment through all facets of the EU’s external action. (25 November)
    • The Commission approved the contract with the pharmaceutical company Moderna, which provides for the initial purchase of 80 million doses on behalf of all EU Member States, plus an option to request up to a further 80 million doses. (25 November)
    • The Commission presents the first-ever EU strategy for LGBTIQ equality. (12 November)
    • The Commission approved the contract with the pharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Pfizer, which provides for the initial purchase of 200 million doses on behalf of all EU Member States, plus an option to request up to a further 100 million doses. (11 November)
    • The new consumer agenda is launched to empower EU consumers to play an active role in the green and digital transitions. (11 November)
    • The first steps are taken towards building the European health union, which will ensure stronger preparedness and response during the current and future health crises. (11 November)
  11. October 2020
    • The Commission proposes an EU Directive to ensure that the workers in the Union are protected by adequate minimum wages allowing for a decent living wherever they work. (28 October)
    • EUR 17 billion is disbursed to Spain, Italy and Poland as the first instalment of financial support to Member States under the SURE instrument. SURE has so far benefited up to 30 million workers and 2.5 million firms. The EU has already provided a total of around EUR 90 billion to 19 Member States. (27 October)
    • The Commission issues a €17 billion inaugural social bond under the EU’s SURE instrument to help protect jobs and keep people in work. (21 October)
    • The European Green Deal: the Commission adopts a new chemicals strategy to work towards a toxin-free environment. (14 October)
    • The Commission approved the contract with the pharmaceutical company Janssen Pharmaceutica NV allowing EU countries to purchase vaccines for 200 million people and the possibility to purchase vaccines for an additional 200 million people. The Commission has already reached a first agreement with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on 14 August. This agreement represented the basis for the purchase of 300 million doses of the vaccine, with an option to purchase 100 million more, on behalf of EU Member States. (8 October)
    • The Commission adopts a new 10-year plan to support Roma in the EU. (7 October)
    • A comprehensive economic and investment plan is adopted to spur the long-term recovery of the Western Balkans and foster regional integration. (6 October)
  12. September 2020
    • The European Commission adopted a digital finance package, including a digital finance strategy and legislative proposals on crypto-assets and digital resilience, for a competitive EU financial sector that gives consumers access to innovative financial products, while ensuring consumer protection and financial stability. (24 September)
    • A new Pact on Migration and Asylum envisages improved and faster procedures throughout the asylum and migration system and sets in balance the principles of fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity. (23 September)
    • A Union of Equality: the Commission puts forward the first ever EU anti-racism action plan. (18 September)
21 JULY 2022
State of the Union 2021 – Timeline



21 JULY 2022
State of the Union 2021 – Brochure