“It has been a difficult year, but our response to the pandemic will ensure we emerge stronger, more resilient and more united. I have never been more proud to be European, and never more convinced of the value of acting together to face our biggest challenges,” says President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in the foreword to the Report.
Over 1,350 measures were adopted to mitigate the crisis, and protect lives and livelihoods. The EU budget was mobilised to its fullest to provide direct financial support to Member States in need. The EU agreed a reinforced long-term budget for 2021-2027, as well as NextGenerationEU, the temporary recovery instrument of €750 billion. Together, they form the largest stimulus package ever financed through the EU budget, of €1.8 trillion.
In 2020, the EU rallied world leaders via the Coronavirus Global Response, the global action for universal access to affordable coronavirus vaccination, treatment and testing, strengthening health systems and supporting the global economic recovery. Almost €16 billion in pledges were raised. Furthermore, the Commission showed its solidarity with global partners by contributing to the COVAX Facility for equitable access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines. Together with the EU Member States and the European Investment Bank, over €2.2 billion have been so far allocated to COVAX, making the EU its biggest donor from the start.
The Report also shows how the EU delivered on its key political priorities in 2020, including progress towards making Europe the first climate-neutral economy by 2050 while also boosting growth, providing new and better jobs and improving people's well-being. In 2020, the EU also launched many new initiatives spanning healthcare, social integration and the fight against threats to European security, and has been actively engaged in achieving a Union of Equality.
2020 saw growing momentum in relations with Africa, with a new vision proposed for the future EU-Africa partnership. The EU also proposed a new EU-U.S. agenda for global change and concluded in principle the negotiations for a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China. It also reached an agreement with the United Kingdom on trade and cooperation.