BRUSSELS: EU chief Ursula von der Leyen vowed Wednesday that Europe would lead the global search for a coronavirus vaccine while rebuilding its shattered economy with a green recovery plan.
In her first annual State of the European Union address, the president of the European Commission also warned Britain not to breach its Brexit withdrawal treaty and Turkey not to threaten its neighbours.
And she recommitted the bloc to fighting racism and homophobia, denouncing the so-called "LGBT-free" zones set up by some towns in EU member state Poland, and urging member states to step up for refugees. Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels, von der Leyen said: "The people of Europe are still suffering." In an implicit swipe at US President Donald Trump's approach to the pandemic, von der Leyen said Europe would lead the world in the search for a vaccine and support multilateral bodies like the World Health Organization.
"None of us will be safe until all of us are safe - wherever we live, whatever we have," she said. "Vaccine nationalism puts lives at risk. Vaccine cooperation saves them."
Europe's own economy has been devastated by the epidemic and the ensuing economic and social lockdowns, but von der Leyen touted her Commission's green recovery plan as a way back.