NewsWorldEU Council, today the summit: Ukraine protagonist

EU Council, today the summit: Ukraine protagonist

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The European Council which opens today in Brussels will be a purely “geopolitical” summit. The Heads of State and Government will focus on three major issues, the first of which will be the granting of the status of candidate countries for EU membership to Ukraine and Moldova, which should be “supported by all leaders” , explains a senior EU official. Georgia, as proposed by the Commission, should be granted a “European perspective”, with plans to return to assessing the granting of candidate status after Tbilisi has implemented a series of reforms. The granting of candidate status will be accompanied by a request to the Commission to report to the Council on each step of the process and on the progress made by countries. Read also President Ursula von der Leyen, speaking at the mini-lecture of the European Parliament in Brussels, said she was certain that the leaders will validate the Commission’s proposal, because “the history of our Union is a history of young democracies that are becoming stronger uniting. It is the story of the rebirth of Germany after the war, the story of Greece, Spain and Portugal quickly leaving the dictatorship behind in favor of democracy “. The EU is preparing to take a historic step, giving a European perspective to three countries that have Russian occupation troops on their territory: Ukraine in Crimea, in the east and in the south, Moldova in Transnistria and Georgia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The leaders will reaffirm their financial support for Ukraine, even if there is no great urgency on the 9 billion package the Commission is working on, given that Kiev for now would have enough resources to make the state work, even printing currency. Reflections are underway on financial technicalities, since these would be guarantees provided by the Member States and not a cash payment: Germany, due to its legal system, has less difficulty in paying a billion in cash than in providing a guarantee. Not to mention that in the three-party coalition finding a consensus between the Greens and the Liberals is not always easy. Military support for Ukraine will also be reaffirmed, although a technical reflection is underway on whether to continue using the European Peace Facility, almost half of which has not infinite resources been absorbed by military aid to Kiev. This time, however, a remote intervention by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is not foreseen this time. Another major theme, the Western Balkans and enlargement, which with this Council, after years in which it had lost its centrality, comes back strongly in the foreground. An ad hoc summit will be dedicated to the countries of the former Yugoslavia and Albania, tomorrow morning, which will also be attended by the leaders of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia, who had mentioned the possibility of not going to Brussels, given that the start of negotiations accession of the last two countries is still blocked by the veto of Bulgaria in Skopje, with which it has bad relations due to the Bulgarian minority in Macedonia. With the okay to the candidacy of Ukraine and Moldova, provoked by the war unleashed by Moscow, the countries of the Balkan area that have been in line for some time fear that they will be bypassed: the EU leaders intend to reassure them, reaffirming the European perspective of the area (as Romano Prodi said, “let’s be serious, we can’t think of leaving Serbia to Russia”), although it is not certain that the Bulgarian veto will be lifted in time for tomorrow. However, a compromise should be voted on in the next few days and Sofia’s veto should be removed, in exchange, among other things, for the inclusion of guarantees for the Bulgarian minority in Macedonia in the Constitution of the latter country. If Bulgaria permits, the start of accession negotiations for Albania and North Macedonia should be unblocked in the coming days, with the convening of an intergovernmental conference. For Bosnia-Herzegovina, a solution along the lines of Georgia is being envisaged, with a candidacy perspective provided that a series of reforms are made first, even if the Republic has made little progress in recent times. The heads of state and government will also discuss how to relaunch the enlargement process and above all how to keep the countries that are at some stage of the accession process more linked to the EU, given that the process becomes “longer and longer” Then, as a third geopolitical topic, the leaders will discuss an enlarged Europe at dinner, that is, how to organize the space between the EU and the Russian Federation, also on the basis of Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to create a European Political Community. , a second looser circle around the Union. The intention is also to identify the countries destined to have closer relations with the Union. On Friday, however, the Eurosummit will be held, in an inclusive format, in which the economic situation will be discussed together with the president of the ECB Christine Lagarde and the president of the Eurogroup Paschal Donohoe. In this context, the leaders will talk about inflation and certainly about energy, even if decisive progress on the gas price ceiling is not expected. Even in Germany, after Gazprom cut supplies for a few days in correspondence with the mission to Kiev of Olaf Scholz, Mario Draghi, Emmanuel Macron and Klaus Johannis, there are reflections, but with shifts at the most millimeter, on this theme: it prevails , for now, the fear that Moscow may decide to stop gas supplies altogether. Draghi is well aware that leaving everything to the free market, in an almost warlike context, is counterproductive, given that Russia can cut gas deliveries at its discretion, as Gazprom has done in recent days, still collecting money, because with every announcement of cuts in deliveries the price of gas soars. However, for this awareness to spread throughout the EU, it will take time, despite Italy, which has France on its side, pushes for it to accelerate, because winter is not so far away and deposits need to be filled. Among the EU leaders, however, there are still those who think that intervening in an already “disturbed” market could create further problems, observes a senior official. The use of energy as a “weapon” and also the food crisis triggered by the blocking of Ukraine’s cereal exports will be discussed in the Eurosummit. Based on Italy’s input, an explicit reference to the conclusions of the European Council of 30 and 31 May, which mentioned the gas price ceiling, should be included in the conclusions. The Commission should present its position on this issue in the near future: some countries, including ours, are pressing for this to happen before the summer break. A possible agreement on the gas price cap could, however, pass to the level of ministers, without the need to call an extraordinary summit in July. The energy issue will certainly return to the table in “September-October”, predicts a senior EU official, as winter approaches and the problem of gas supplies becomes more pressing. Finally, the leaders will talk about the conclusions of the Conference on the future of Europe, entrusting the other EU institutions to deal with how to follow up on the recommendations. But there is no appetite, in general, to reopen the treaties, which would take a long time and unanimity among the 27, nor should they get into a discussion on “institutional issues”, predicts an EU source. Some countries believe that the proposals of the Conference that do not involve treaty revisions should be put on the plate first, while other countries, such as Italy, have a more advanced position: they should all be put on the table, then we’ll see. It is possible that in the discussions, but not in the conclusions, there is also talk of the enclave (or exclave, more properly) of Kaliningrad, after Russia has threatened Lithuania with consequences for the civilian population, given that Vilnius has decided to apply EU sanctions also on trains in transit between ancient Koenigsberg and Russia. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis also recalled in Luxembourg that starting from December the EU sanctions will also apply to oil and derived products. It is a situation that could become very risky in the future, in that poisonous legacy of the twentieth century that is the birthplace of Immanuel Kant. The Commission yesterday announced that it will continue to work on guidelines on the application of sanctions, reiterating that Vilnius has merely applied EU law. In practice, a way should be found, if necessary with a legislative intervention, to defuse a fuse lit by the Lithuanians, who have applied the sanctions rigidly, and who have been ‘covered’ by the Commission, which often has a bureaucratic vision of the rule and lacks a geopolitical vision, as explained by the Dutch historian Luuk van Middelaar in a series of lectures at the Collège de France. In reality, the transit of Russian goods through the EU territory is comparable to an easement: we should work on this concept to prevent the situation from getting out of hand and having wider consequences. The pretext for invading Poland which Adolf Hitler clung to was the corridor of Gdansk: someone, even in Brussels, is well aware that history does not repeat itself, but sometimes rhymes.

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