“We have to act on climate change. We want Europe to be the frontrunner in the digital age. But we also want Europe's social promise to be filled with life”, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said at the opening of the Social Summit in Porto on 7 May. “We are here to build a social Europe that is fit for our day and age. That is delivering on its ambitions.”
The Summit aimed to reinforce the commitment from Member States, European institutions, social partners and civil society to the implementation of the Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights.
To turn principles into tangible, positive change for millions of Europeans, we needed clear targets to drive our action, President von der Leyen said. She reminded that by the end of this decade, our goal was to have at least 78% of adult Europeans employed.
“We want at least 60% of adult Europeans who have training every year, because skilling, training and upskilling is one of the most urgent necessities for the whole workforce to meet the transformation. And we must lift at least 15 million Europeans from the brink of poverty, most importantly of all: at least 5 million children. We all know why we do have these targets, because only what gets measured gets done,” she explained.
She outlined a number of initiatives put in place towards achieving these targets, from the Child Guarantee, the Youth Guarantee, to the Directive on pay transparency to the Pact for skills. All of this will be backed by the largest public investment plan in the EU's history - the NextGenerationEU. “Our Recovery Plan will create good jobs, all across our Union. We will invest in skills to master the green and the digital transformation. And it will be backed by reforms to re-energise our economy”, she added.
The Social Summit was followed by an informal meeting of EU Heads of State or Government, and the EU-India Leaders' meeting on 8 May.
President von der Leyen updated the EU leaders about the progress of the vaccination campaign, stressing that we were on track to achieve the objective of enough doses being delivered in July to vaccinate 70% of the European adult population. She also spoke about the ongoing legal and technical work on the EU travel certificate, and the EU's role in the global vaccination effort.
“The European Union is the pharmacy of the world and open to the world. Up to today, in the EU, 400 million doses of vaccines have been produced. And 50% of them have been exported to 90 different countries in the world. So we invite others to do the same. This is the best way right now, in the short term, to approach the bottlenecks and the lack of vaccines worldwide”, von der Leyen said.
At the EU-India leaders' meeting, the EU and India have concluded a comprehensive Connectivity Partnership, confirming their commitment to collaborate on supporting resilient and sustainable connectivity. “While the coronavirus still causes terrible devastation, we must also focus on building back better,” President von der Leyen said. “This Connectivity Partnership will guide our actions over the coming years, providing for joint efforts in creating a greener, more inclusive and prosperous future for the EU, India, and in regions around the world.”
The EU and India leaders also discussed free trade, investment protection, and climate change.