Brussels is a place to be this Thursday for the EU leaders, NATO member states, as well as G7. Almost all of the key political figures of above mentioned alliances convened to discuss the ongoing war in Ukraine and its global consequences. The Russian aggression united the European Union more than any issue in the history and European Council conclusions are setting the path to adress challenges the EU is facing in the field of security, defense, energy and economy. Since the discussions and conclusions of G7 and NATO were announced prior to the European Council meeting, it will be interesting to see potential changes to the following draft document obtained by The Watcher Post.
The Conclusions did not include any reference to the EU membership, but it states European Council’s committment to continous and coordinated political, financial, material and humanitarian support, while highlighting that it remains ready to move quickly with further coordinated sanctions: „Any attempts to circumvent sanctions or to aid Russia by other means must be stopped“, states the draft Consclusion.
It called on all Member States to intensify their efforts in a continued spirit of unity and solidarity, and invited the Commission to take any necessary initiatives to facilitate such efforts by compliting on the recent roposals to support Member States so as to ensure that EU funding for refugees and their hosts can be mobilised rapidl and to work on additional proposals.
European Union is committed to provide support to the Ukrainian Government for its immediate needs and, once the Russian onslaught has ceased, for the reconstruction of a democratic Ukraine. To that end, the European Council agrees to set up a Ukraine Solidarity Trust Fund and calls for preparations to start without delay. According to the plan, an international conference is to be organised in due time to raise funding under the Ukraine Solidarity Trust Fund.
When it comes to security and defense, the Council is expecting an analysis to be developed by the Commission by mid-May, in coordination with the European Defence Agency, of the defence investment gaps and to the proposals for any further initiative necessary to strengthen the European defence industrial and technological base.
In order to strengthen the defence capabilities of the European Union and of Member States, the full potential of the European Union’s funding instruments and initiatives, in particular the European Defence Fund and the Permanent Structured Cooperation, the Capability Development Plan and the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence, should be harnessed, according to the draft proposal, and measures should be taken by the end of 2022 to promote and facilitate access to private funding for the defence industry, also by making best use of the possibilities offered by the European Investment Bank.
By the end of May 2022, the Council expects Commission’s comprehensive and ambitious plan on how to phase out EU’s dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal imports. It invites the Member States and the Commission to continue to make best use of the toolbox, including the new State aid temporary crisis framework, and underlines that temporary taxation of windfall profits can be a useful source of financing. It required from the Council an examination in more detail and as a matter of urgency the additional concrete short-term options presented by the Commission, in particular so as to limit the increase of the gas price and address its contagion effect on electricity markets. It called on the Commission to submit proposals that effectively address the problem of excessive electricity prices while preserving the integrity of the Single Market, maintaining incentives for the green transition, preserving the security of supply and avoiding disproportionate budgetary costs. Also, the proposals by the Commission on EU gas storage policy is expected in order for refilling of gas storage across the Union to start as soon as possible.
In the economic filed, the European Council repeated the call from Versailes on building a more robust economic base, notably by reducing EU strategic dependencies in the most sensitive areas such as critical raw materials, semi-conductors, health, digital and food, and by pursuing an ambitious and robust trade policy, as well as by fostering investment.