European Council meeting of 20 – 21 October 2022

After the Covid pandemic, which is actually not quite over yet, Europe has much worse cats to flog.

With what is going on in the North of Europe, no wonder a lot of time is recently spent on that very delicate situation, which could bring the world in a horrible position.

For this reason, all government leaders really need to be on their guard and it comes down to ‘not taking any hasty decisions’.

At their 20-21 October 2002 meeting, European Union leaders focused on Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, and the impact on the markets, where, besides food problems for poorer countries, the majority of richer countries face an energy crisis.

Naturally, one could not ignore the fact that Putin‘s choice to invade Ukraine should be seen in the light of his desire for expansion and hope to achieve a kind of renewed Soviet Union, in which China will be allowed to act as a faithful ally.

During their exchange on external relations, EU leaders held a strategic discussion on relations with China, without adopting conclusions; discussed the preparation of the EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit; took stock of the preparation of the upcoming United Nations-led summits on climate change and biodiversity; and condemned Iran’s human rights breaches.

On Thursday the 20th of October, for the seventh time in a row, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, addressed the European Council, and told the European leaders that Russian forces have mined a dam upstream of the southern city of Kherson that would put “hundreds of thousands” at risk from flooding if it’s blown up, and endanger water supplies to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. More than once, the Ukrainian president told the European leaders Russia behaves like terrorists and should be punished for its atrocious actions.  He stressed

terror must lose. Ukraine and all of Europe must win’.

President Zelenskyy also stressed that a third of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure had been destroyed as a result of Russia’s attacks using Iranian combat drones, depleting Ukraine’s ability to export energy. He underlined that the IRIS‑T system provided by Germany protects both Ukrainians and Europeans, and urged transatlantic partners to supply more such systems

‘to create a truly reliable air shield’.

The European Parliament President, the Maltese politician Roberta Metsola, addressed the leaders, noting that Ukraine is defending Europe and that

‘real peace can only come with justice – with a Tribunal to look into war crimes, perpetrators and restitution’.

Roberta Metsola stressed that a revision was needed

‘to respond to crises or to finance new priorities’

and underlined that

‘the MFF needed to be future-proofed with in-built flexibility’

to finance new priorities. President Metsola also drew attention to Moldova, stressing that it needs EU assistance, at a time when it is confronted with the ‘economic, humanitarian, energy or even political’ consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The widening repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and planetary consequences of that war have, by now, reached far beyond the disruption of climate efforts in Europe, where gas shortages have prompted governments to recommission coal plants. The conflict has also intensified a race among great powers for ascendancy in the Arctic, adding to pressure on a fragile system that’s critical to mitigating global warming.

The EU leaders noted Ukraine’s ‘readiness for a just peace’ and again noted its right to defend itself, to liberate all illegally occupied territories and to re-establish its territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

Justice and accountability for war crimes were among the key issues discussed by the EU leaders. Several Member States, including Lithuania and Estonia, supported the creation of a special tribunal for war crimes committed in Ukraine, whist the EU institutions are

‘to explore options so that full accountability can be ensured’.

There is an overwhelming sense that the world is returning to an era of great powers competing for resources and security, rather than collaborating over climate.

The war in Ukraine is a major contributing factor raising energy prices and driving up the prices of grains and fertilisers. And the squeeze has been sharpest near the conflict zone: In Hungary, the cost of a basic loaf has surged by 77 percent.

A poster of Putin and Orban during a Fidesz party march in Budapest on March 15.  Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

The day before the meeting European Union’s longest-serving prime minister and idol for populist movements around the world, Viktor Orbán defied the bloc’s norms on everything from immigration to judicial independence. In the midst of Europe’s energy crisis over Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, he struck side deals with Russian energy giant Gazprom and casted doubt on EU sanctions against Moscow. Though that man who does not want to keep to EU regulations seem to forget that Hungary’s bills are paid by the EU. After funneling billions of dollars to help the country’s post-communist transformation, Brussels is now threatening to cut off aid. Orbán, who is facing protests and has backtracked on lavish utility subsidies that bolster his political support, has two months to implement anti-corruption legislation to unfreeze the EU funds.

The meeting’s topics – Ukraine, energy and the economy – showed continuity with the informal European Council meeting [European Political Community (EPC)] held in Prague on 7 October 2022, and the next regular meeting on 15‑16 December 2022, as announced in the indicative 2022 Leaders’ Agenda.

The European Council, which was extremely fruitful reached an agreement in the field of energy,

an extremely important agreement, with an immediate effect since we have seen, in the last few hours, a significant drop in prices – which shows that acting in unity, acting as Europeans, has an impact.

said president Charles Michel who went on

Of course, we are going to remain mobilised to implement, from the Council of Ministers of the European Union, with the European Commission, the various measures necessary to show the credibility, strength and power of the European Union in order to protect European citizens.

It is precisely in these times of crisis that the people of Europe are looking forward to what their government leaders have to offer.

When it comes to military support, EU leaders noted that the Union will conduct an EU military assistance mission, aimed at training Ukrainian armed forces. At the moment only Great Britain is providing training in Ukraine, as a successor to Operation Orbital, which has trained 22,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the UK between 2015 and May this year.

Given that Ukraine is a country at war, the mission will be conducted on EU soil, a first for a common security and defence policy mission. Over €10 billion has been allocated from the European Peace Facility (EPF) to cover common costs. The EU leaders also noted that an additional €500 million in EU military assistance was agreed in the Council, increasing the total provided to Ukraine since the start of the war to €3.1 billion. This amount represents nearly 55 % of the entire EPF envelope planned to 2027.

The leaders consider,

because we are democracies, that a central and fundamental element directly concerns personal rights, human rights and freedoms, whereas in the Chinese model, the starting point, the software, tends to consider that the State, and perhaps even more so the party, is the determining criterion. So we can see that the software is very different in terms of the institutional and political system, and also in terms of the economic system. This is an objective, neutral observation that we must calmly make, and that we have all shared.

Michel said.

Firstly, we are always going to stand firm and stand up for our principles, which we deeply believe in: democracy and fundamental freedoms.

Secondly, we believe that we must be committed to bringing about more reciprocity, more rebalancing, particularly in economic relations between China and the European Union. This is work that we must carry out in all areas and we are going to be determined to make progress on this issue.

And thirdly, we also believe that we must be able to engage with China on global issues: climate change and health are obvious examples that show that we want to engage with China on these issues.

It was therefore a debate that showed a very clear desire not to be naive, but not to be in a logic of systematic confrontation either. We have our own model to develop, to build in this relationship with China.

There is a very strong, very consensual, very convergent conviction, which was expressed by all 27 European leaders, of the importance of really developing this strategic autonomy, this capacity to be less dependent from a strategic point of view, to have more independence on the strategic level, but also, to do this, to strengthen and diversify our partnerships with the rest of the world. And that is why, a few months ago, we held this summit with the African Union in February in Brussels, which was an opportunity to build the foundations for a new relationship of mutual interest in a partnership of equals with Africa.

In doing so, however, European leaders should not lose sight of how China has been impaling and sucking the African continent for several years.

As regards economic and financial assistance, the EU Heads of State or Government called for the rapid disbursement of the remaining €3 billion in macro-financial assistance. They invited the Commission and the Council to work on

‘a more structural solution for providing assistance to Ukraine’.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen underlined that

‘it is important for Ukraine to have a predictable and stable flow of income’,

stressing that Ukraine needed between €3 and €4 billion per month for its basic needs, which the EU, the United States and the international financial instructions could cover. She confirmed that the EU’s contribution could be around €1.5 billion a month in 2023, with the disbursement mechanism still to be developed by the Ministers of Finance.

The EU leaders also stressed that existing mechanisms – the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with Ukraine – facilitated access to the single market and should be implemented in full. With Ukraine recently granted candidate country status, President Michel stressed the need for the EU

‘to act to ensure that this is a credible and strong perspective for Ukraine’

For the EU leaders it is clear that the EU has to engage with the rest of the world. Michel finds it important to diversify the EU partnerships,

building strategies to ensure that we are more independent.

**

It should be clear to everyone that we will mainly have to seek everything here on our own continent and make ourselves completely independent of countries that are not part of the European Union.

Michel further said

It is a geopolitical transformation that we are witnessing, and in this moment of geopolitical transition, the important thing for the European Union is to have clear ideas, to have a concern for unity but also a concern for power, and this is perhaps what best sums up the state of mind of our discussions on China and, more generally, on foreign affairs.

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Preceding

A recovery plan for Europe

President Volodymyr Zelensky, addressing a European Parliament emergency session via videolink

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Additional reading

  1. Germany blocks Nord Stream 2 pipe from Russia
  2. Has Russia already started World War Three?
  3. Ukraine’s week of 2022 March 21-27 in view
  4. Germany blocks Nord Stream 2 pipe from Russia
  5. EU Commission proposing an emergency intervention in Europe’s energy markets to tackle dramatic price rises
  6. Promises of energy contributions
  7. E is for everything
  8. Bloomberg looking at the 4th week of August 2022
  9. Shall skyrocketing energy prices bring down consumption
  10. The Independent 2022 August 29 – September 04
  11. The Telegraph 2022 September 05 – 11
  12. The Week of 2022 September 05 – 11
  13. The Telegraph of 2022/10/12 looking at what happened in the world
  14. European Union leaders finally agreed to shut off the flow of most of the oil they buy from Russia

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Related

  1. EU rejects Donbass referenda
  2. A peace facility for war – the EPF!
  3. Under the Radar Reports
  4. New frontrunner emerges to take powerful Council top job
  5. Foreign Affairs | EU progress on Ukrainian access
  6. Prague: EU leaders convene informally
  7. White House announces new surveillance guardrails to meet EU Privacy Shield expectations
  8. EU: Fast and Furious on Ukraine, But Not on Energy
  9. Outcome of the European Political Community and European Council meetings in Prague on 6-7 October 2022
  10. Zelensky accuses Russia of planning false-flag operation at hydroelectric plant
  11. The EU Military Assistance Mission; what’s known
  12. An opportunity for Ireland!
  13. Ireland agrees to EU Military Assistance Mission to Ukraine

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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3 Responses to European Council meeting of 20 – 21 October 2022

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