Macron: «A recovery plan for energy and defense». The discussion on Kiev in the EU

Of Francesca Basso

The meeting in Versailles between the leaders of the European Union. The French president speaks of “historic decisions” for the EU. Ukraine’s application for membership divides states. The Italian premier to Putin: enough bombs on civilians

VERSAILLES How to help Ukraine resist the Russian invasion, of course, but also and above all the impact of the war on the EU in terms of defense and energy securityreducing dependence on Russian hydrocarbons by 2027. “This is a decisive moment for the European Union, it is a test for the resilience of our democracy,” said the president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on her arrival. at the informal summit in Versailles, where on Thursday the EU leaders, invited by French President Emmanuel Macron, who is in charge of the current EU presidency, discussed European defense, energy, Kiev-EU relations until late.

“We want to rethink our defense capacity and energy, to achieve independence from Russian hydrocarbons with massive investments in renewables, because they give us independence and security,” said von der Leyen, while the President of the European Council, Charles Michel , explained that «It is a strategic summit, it is very important. It is useless to go around it ». “Europe must prepare itself for all scenarios” and therefore “to be independent of Russian gas and to be independent in guaranteeing its defense” because “We have rediscovered that our democracy and our values ​​are threatened” said the French president, Emmanuel Macron, before the meeting began, explaining that “We all have different situations between us, this is Europe, but the key is to be able to defend the common interest” going beyond “particular situations”.

On Friday they will discuss how to build a solid economy (reform of the Stability Pact but not only). And the frugal countries are already on a war footing against the hypothesis of a new common debt. Entering the summit Macron explained that “we need a European investment strategy. To start, private investments will be needed, to be strengthened, a coordinated national investment strategy and a common European investment strategy will be needed. We can start with the part of the 2020 Recovery plan, for the portion not yet used, but depending on the objectives that we will define, it will be necessary to see whether to transform it and make new decisions “. The idea of ​​him is two hundred billion new for defense and energy. So far only Austria among the frugal has opened.

The premier Mario Draghi upon his arrival he reiterated that “Italy and France are aligned with the rest of the European Union, both in the response to the sanctions and in the support for our countries that these sanctions will necessarily entail”. No one is under any illusions about the duration of the war: “I am pessimistic, I do not see a ceasefire in the next few days,” said President Macron. Draghi recalled that “we have asked President Putin many times together to an end to hostilities and in particular the bombing of civilians“. On the table of EU leaders there are new sanctions against Russia.
EU High Representative Josep Borrell he explained that at the summit «we will have to work in two directions: we will have to continue to put pressure on Putin to stop this aggressive war, with diplomatic action but also with sanctions; and we will have to increase the resilience of the EU with energy independence and military capacity ».

If the EU leaders were compact in condemning the “unjustified and unprovoked” aggression Ukraine and to attribute “full responsibility to Russia and to Belarus its accomplice”, it took longer to find a shared language in the final declaration to describe Kiev’s relationship to the Union, after the formal request for EU membership presented by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski. Because if it is clear, as von der Leyen explained, that Ukraine is «part of our European family», On the ways the positions between the EU states are different, with Poland and the Baltic countries pushing. Explicit Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte: “There is no doubt that the Netherlands and Ukraine are side by side but there is no accelerated EU accession path”. For the Italian premier Mario Draghi, Kiev is part of the European family and Italy is engaged in sanctions compact with the other leaders. Now it is Germany and the Netherlands, along with Austria and Hungary, who insist on not sanctioning the energy sector.

EU leaders discussed the war in Ukraine over dinner in the Gallery of Mirrors, which began at 9.30pm with an hour delay from the schedule. The confrontation continued until late at night. The initial part of the meetinghosted in the Salone d’Ercole, instead focused on how make the EU independent of Russian gas, oil and coal come on how to strengthen the defense (the decision is postponed to the summit in March). The Commission’s proposal, symbolically called ‘RepowerEu’, and which aims to reduce the consumption of gas imported from Moscow by two thirds by this year, has found support from leaders. On defense, the request is to substantially increase national spending, develop joint projects and accelerate the strategic compass. EU leaders also discussed whether to involve the Commission.

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