Speech by President von der Leyen at the AmCham EU Transatlantic Conference 2021 “Global leadership: A transatlantic opportunity”

Photographer: Jennifer Jacquemart

European Union, 2021
Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

Thank you, AmCham, for this opportunity to speak to both sides of the Atlantic, at once.

It’s time for the Atlantic to become, once again, the beating heart of global cooperation. People on both sides of the Ocean are confronted today with a breathtaking set of challenges.

The pandemic.
The economic recovery.
The fight against climate change.

But if Europe and America join forces, none of these challenges are too big.

And today, after four difficult years, Brussels and Washington finally speak the same language again. It’s the language of cooperation in international affairs. The language of free enterprise and fair competition. The language of science-based policy-making. And it’s the language of our common democratic values – upon which the transatlantic community has thrived for over seventy years.

I am a convinced Atlanticist. And even when we disagreed with the previous U.S. Administration, I never stopped believing that Europe and America belong together. We are one transatlantic community.

I know this is also what you stand for, at the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union.

You kept alive the flame of transatlantic cooperation through the years and until this new chapter in the history of our friendship with the US. You’ve been on the right side of history, and I would like to thank you for that.

Your annual Transatlantic Conference comes at a momentous time, for our partnership with the US. It’s been a month of intense contacts between the European Commission and the Biden Administration. In late February, at the G7, we took a first step towards a renewed transatlantic cooperation.

President Biden announced a 2 billion dollar contribution in 2021 for COVAX. And this is such an important step! COVAX is the global facility to buy vaccines for low- and middle-income countries. Europe contributed to its inception and creation last year. And we financed it, with 2.2 billion euros from Team Europe. It’s great that the US is now joining forces with us.

Together we can help reach the goal of vaccinating 2 billion people in developing countries by the end of this year. We need to bring more donors on board, and we can only make it if Europe and America play as one team.

On vaccine solidarity and vaccine openness, Europe is walking the walk. The European Union has exported over 45 million doses of vaccines, since the beginning of February. These vaccines went to 33 countries. On top of this, European vaccines went to low- and middle-income countries through COVAX. Plenty of components that are necessary to produce vaccines have travelled between the two sides of the Atlantic, in both directions.

This kind of openness is also crucial to deliver vaccines all around the world. So I hope that other countries will also open up, in a spirit of reciprocity and in our mutual interest.

Cooperation to overcome the pandemic will be an important part of the new transatlantic agenda. But there is much more.

Earlier this month, I had a very positive discussion with President Biden about our new agenda for cooperation. As a symbol of this fresh start, President Biden and I agreed to suspend all our tariffs in the context of the Airbus-Boeing disputes, for an initial period of 4 months. It’s a first step, but it speaks volumes about the good will on both sides of the Atlantic. And I believe it sends a very reassuring message to all businesses trading between Europe and America.

President Biden and I also discussed about putting a strong green dimension in the recovery. This was also at the core of John Kerry’s visit to Brussels. The US has now re-joined the Paris agreement.

My offer to our American friends is: let’s go even further, together.

Let us agree on a shared transatlantic commitment to become climate neutral by 2050. A transatlantic roadmap to climate neutrality. Let us discuss how to put a price on carbon on both sides of the Atlantic.

If we do this together, we can set a new climate-protection standard for the whole world. Let us discuss how to reduce the ‘green premium’ of market deployment of new technologies. The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy. And I know that the US is our ally also in this. If Europe and the US lead by example, I am sure that many others will follow.

The same is true in the digital world. Let us create a new transatlantic rulebook for the digital economy. A rulebook for data protection and privacy as well as for the security of critical infrastructure. A rulebook based on our common values. And if we succeed, we could set the bar for the rest of the world.

These are just a few headlines from our proposal of a new transatlantic agenda.

We are ready to write a new chapter in the book of our oldest partnership. At the G7, President Biden told us: America is back. That’s great news for the world.

And Europe is welcoming America back.

So let me wish you all a great Transatlantic Conference.

Thank you.

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