CHARLES MICHEL, President of the European Council of the European Union, said humans have tortured the planet and committed acts of war against the environment. For decades, scientists have sounded the alarm. The pandemic meanwhile has opened our eyes to the reality that humans are inextricably linked to nature. “It is time to sign a peace treaty with our planet,” he said, and to transform the world as the previous generation did after the last world war. Inspired by these principles, they left an international rules-based order and championed a development model based on the freedom to trade and ensure prosperity. These choices ushered in greater stability.
“We are indeed at an inflection point,” he said, calling for a world that is fairer and safer, one where cooperation reigns over confrontation, solidarity over isolation and transparency over secrecy. He called for supporting the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, noting that the European Union has exported 700 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, invested €3 billion in COVAX and mobilized €1 billion to develop pharmaceutical production capacities in African countries. He called for preventing the next pandemic and shoring up global resilience, adding that the European Union has proposed an international treaty against pandemics.
On climate issues, he called the Paris Agreement a milestone, with the European Union paving the way by committing to climate neutrality by 2050, and a further push to do so by 2030. It is important to move towards a carbon tax, he said, noting that the European Union has an emissions exchange system that stimulates innovation and generates results. He called for investments to “green” the economy. Noting that industrialized countries must shoulder their responsibility to help developing nations, he recalled that, from 2013 to 2019, the European Union disbursed €127 billion — one third of the total. He went on to stress that women are being raped “because they are women” — a weapon of war used particularly in the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia.
He called for an immediate end to ethnic violence, and for unobstructed access to humanitarian assistance. He went on to describe the European Union’s provision of development assistance to the Sahel, calling the new situation in Afghanistan “a failure for the international community”. In the Indo-Pacific, the European Union is among the most important trade partners, with 40 per cent of its trade transiting the region. It is currently forging a new alliance with Africa. Expressing support for all efforts to promote education, he said the European Union, a leading sponsor of peace, is financing one quarter of the United Nations regular budget, 30 per cent of the peacekeeping budget and half of development assistance. It aligns with the United Nations vision of an open, connected world. The uptick in violence in the Middle East calls for peaceful dialogue towards a two-State solution between Israel and Palestine, he added.