The 27 European leaders are meeting in Brussels today for a two-day summit to discuss the situation in Ukraine, energy, food security and European defense.
The Summit starts at 5 p.m. (Greek time) with the first topic being the situation in Ukraine. European leaders are expected to reiterate strong EU economic, political, humanitarian and military support for the country.
According to a letter of invitation to EU leaders, European Council President Charles Michel, the most “pressing” issue is financial assistance to Ukraine to meet liquidity needs. According to a draft conclusions, the EU will provide the country with further emergency macro-financial assistance in the form of loans and grants, up to € 9 billion in 2022. However, it is not yet clear whether the leaders will give their final approval today, as the The Commission will present the details of how the funding will be provided in June.
Possible discussion of sanctions
The European Council could also discuss the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, which includes an embargo on Russian oil.
One month after the presentation of the 6th package of sanctions by the Commission, no agreement has been reached yet. The issue has been discussed with undiminished intensity for the last 48 hours, at the level of ambassadors of the Member States, who are meeting this morning, in a last-ditch effort to find a consensual solution.
The proposal, which is on the table, concerns a total embargo by the end of the year on Russian oil imports by sea (2/3 of imports) and an exception, currently on pipeline imports of Russian oil (1 / 3 of imports) and in particular through the Russian pipeline “Druzhba” which supplies Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The European Council will be briefed on these talks today, but an agreement at ambassadorial level is expected later in the week, according to Commission sources.
The theme of energy at leaders dinner
Over dinner, the “27” EU leaders will discuss the issue of energy and high prices that hit households and businesses hard. The discussion will focus on funding the REPowerEU project for the phasing out of Russian fossil fuels, presented by the Commission on 18 May. “We need to accelerate our energy transition if we want to phase out our dependence on Russian fossil fuels as soon as possible. Based on our decisions in Versailles, we will discuss the best ways forward,” Charles Michel said in the letter. to the “27”.
“At the March summit, the 27 called on the Commission to put forward proposals that effectively address the problem of excessive electricity prices while maintaining the integrity of the single market.” However, according to a diplomatic source, some Member States do not REPowerEU addresses the pressing issue of energy prices, so the issue of EU electricity market reform is likely to be raised again, including the possibility of an energy price cap and a platform for a common EU gas market. A European official said: “We ask the Commission to consider how price caps could be reached but in cooperation with international partners.”
Food security and European defense
On the second day of the Summit, European leaders will discuss the dramatic impact on global food security posed by Russia’s military aggression. The discussion will be attended, via teleconference, by the President of the African Union Maki Sal.
Finally, European defense will occupy the “27” leaders, as Russia’s war against Ukraine has further strengthened their ambition for a strong, coordinated European defense. The priority is for Member States to coordinate their efforts to replenish stocks and build a European industrial base.