The war in Ukraine reminds us of the enduring value of the European Union as a peace project among Europeans and as a strong actor to uphold and promote security on our continent and in the wider world, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said in a statement on Europe Day, celebrated today, 9 May.
Europe Day on 9 May commemorates Robert Schuman’s founding declaration, which launched the European project. This year, the commemoration takes on a particular meaning, with the return of war on a large scale to European territory.
“While for most of our citizens the EU integration process is a huge success story, some of our fellow Europeans have also been swayed by doubts about the usefulness of the European project,” said Borrell. The war in Ukraine reminds us of “the enduring value of the European Union as a peace project” and as a strong actor in the wider world.
Borrell highlighted four points in this regard:
- Member States have demonstrated the strongest political unity in the face of aggression. “We all understood the seriousness of the [Russian] aggression and the dangers it carried. Hence the speed at which the Union adopted financial and economic sanctions against Russia in coordination with G7 partners.”
- For the first time ever, the EU used the financial resources of the European Peace Facility to help a state under attack defend itself. Three tranches have already been disbursed for a total of €1.5 billion. This European support is coupled with the direct military support from the Member States. “It is a further proof that far from restricting the Member States, the union multiplies the power of each of them.”
- By collectively working towards the end of Europe’s energy dependence on Russia, the EU shows it is stronger at the sum of its parts than when Member States act alone. “Not only is it a stronger player in the international energy market, it also limits the exposure of its individual Member States to energy blackmail. This will enhance the EU’s strategic resilience.”
- The strength and determination of the EU’s response in support of Ukraine is an expression of international solidarity. No less than 141 states of the international community have explicitly rejected the Russian aggression against Ukraine at the UN General Assembly. They are defending their own territorial integrity and sovereignty against future potential aggressions and saying “no” to the return of the law of the jungle in international relations. Furthermore, the EU is engaged in addressing the overall international impact, including economic, of Russia’s war against Ukraine. “Here also, the EU unity in exercising international solidarity will make the difference.”
“Through this war, Europe’s process of learning how to use the language of powers is speeding up,” the EU High Representative said. “9 May 2022 must underline this growing awareness: to defend the EU and the values upon which it is based; to put our collective power at the service of our partner Ukraine to defend itself and its full and complete sovereignty; to work with the international community in preserving key international norms and security and to exercise solidarity to address the global consequences of this aggression.”
Source: EU NEIGHBOURS east
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU High Representative Josep Borrell today proposed a 5th package of sanctions against Russia for the approval of the European Council.
These sanctions aim to further cripple Putin’s war machinery, following the atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation in Ukraine.
- An import ban on coal from Russia, worth €4 billion per year. This will cut another important revenue source for Russia.
- A full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, among them VTB, the second largest Russian bank. These four banks, now totally cut off from the markets, represent 23% of market share in the Russian banking sector. This will further weaken Russia’s financial system.
- A ban on Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from accessing EU ports. Certain exemptions will cover essentials, such as agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid as well as energy. Additionally, the Commission will propose a ban on Russian and Belarusian road transport operators. This ban will drastically limit the options for the Russian industry to obtain key goods.
- Further targeted export bans, worth €10 billion, in areas in which Russia is vulnerable. This includes, for example, quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, but also sensitive machinery and transportation equipment. With this, the EU will continue to degrade Russia’s technological base and industrial capacity.
- Specific new import bans, worth € 5.5 billion, to cut the money stream of Russia and its oligarchs, on products from wood to cement, from seafood to liquor. In doing this, the EU also closes loopholes between Russia and Belarus.
- A number of very targeted measures, such as a general EU ban on participation of Russian companies in public procurement in Member States, or an exclusion of all financial support, be it European or national, to Russian public bodies.
The European Commission also proposed further listings of individuals, adding, according to Borrell, “dozens of people from politics, the business sector and engaged in propaganda activities”.
According to Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission is also working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports, and reflecting on some of the ideas presented by Member States, such as taxes or specific payment channels such as an escrow account.