Last week the European Council met for a formal summit. The historic summit saw the Council meet with U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Additionally, EU leaders re-elected Charles Michel as President of the European Council until November of 2024. During the two-day summit, the Council also discussed other security, energy, COVID-19, foreign policy and economic issues. Here’s a quick rundown of all the important council decisions:
During their meeting with Biden, the European Council called for the creation of a Ukraine Solidarity Trust Fund, in cooperation with other international allies. They hope to see an international conference to raise more money to send humanitarian and other assistance to the people of Ukraine. This fund would also help fund the development of a democratic Ukraine after the war is over.
Other conclusions from the council condemn Russian military actions and call on Russia to allow civilians to escape the war zone to wherever they chose. This conclusion comes after Russia said it would provide safe passage for civilians, but only to go to Russia.
Additionally leaders continued to call for an end to military aggression and the opening of an international investigation into the wartime behavior of the Russian military. There have been widespread reports of bombed civilian targets and other illegal atrocities committed by Russian military forces.
Finally the European Council recognized the efforts of Europeans from EU countries that border Ukraine to help refugees. They committed to share the burden more evenly across EU countries and to provide more humanitarian support to regions that are suffering from the influx of more than 3.5 million refugees.
The European Council adopted the Strategic Compass, a framework to guide the EU’s security and defense policy for the coming years. In theory, the Compass would allow the EU to coordinate and deploy security forces faster, allocate defense spending more effectively, work to develop new defense technology and strengthen the EU’s relationship with its international partners.
The leaders also committed to evaluate the Strategic Compass’ effectiveness on a regular basis. They called for the European Commission to work with the European Defence Agency to evaluate current European defense investment and prepare a report about how to better use the instruments already in place to develop defense capabilities across the EU.
The EU-China summit will be happening at the end of this week and the European Council talked about their relations with China. While the published conclusions didn’t go into detail, they likely will discuss with China about condemning the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine. As of yet, China has not condemned Putin or instituted sanctions against him, like most other countries have. There are fears that China may end up being Putin’s lifeline for the economy should things get worse for Russia. Biden has already had discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping where he pointed out these possibilities as very dangerous for China.
Leaders also discussed the ongoing crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country which continues to strive for candidate status. The Council and the Commission have set out strict reforms which must take place for them to accomplish this goal.
The European Council made a myriad of conclusions to help combat high fuel prices and guarantee gas storage to get countries through next winter. Plans include working with countries who already have some gas storage to help out those without as much, contacting outside stakeholders about the collective purchase of gas and work to create a more renewable energy market within the EU. The internal renewable energy market would both bring the EU closer to its climate neutrality goal and guarantee energy production within the EU, reducing the dependence on outside partners.
These conclusions are in the context of sky-high fuel prices across the EU. Leaders tried to address this in their conclusions as well, calling for a report from the European Commission to examine how to mitigate the economic impact of these fuel prices.
The European Council set out provisions to work on the Single Market within the context of those high fuel prices. They also called for member states to address food security issues in keeping with Commission reports on rising food prices worldwide. The Council looks to work to preserve global food security chains by guaranteeing it at home first.
Leaders examined the ongoing efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 worldwide. They plan to support worldwide vaccine rollout and invest in future pandemic prevention. In the last few months, many EU countries have massively scaled back their pandemic-era policies like mask requirements and social distancing.
Here is a link to all of the European Council’s conclusions: Here