|Author (Corporate)||European Council|
|Publisher||General Secretariat of the Council|
|Publication Date||March 2022|
|Content Type||News, Overview, Policy-making|
National Leaders from the Member States of the European Union (EU) gathered for a meeting of the European Council on 24-25 March 2022. Leaders adopted conclusions on the Russia's invasion of Ukraine, security and defence, energy, economic issues, COVID-19 and external relations. On the first day of the summit, EU leaders were joined in person by the President of the United States (USA) and by the Ukrainian President (video conference).
EU leaders stressed that Russia was directing attacks against the civilian population and targeting civilian objects in Ukraine. They urged Russia to guarantee safe passage to civilians trapped in war zones, release all hostages, provide uninterrupted humanitarian access and establish humanitarian corridors. The European Council reaffirmed its openness to move quickly with further sanctions if required, it called on all countries to align with those sanctions and highlighted that any attempts to circumvent these measures or aid Russia by other means should be stopped.
The European Council reaffirmed the provision of coordinated political, financial, material and humanitarian support to Ukraine and its people. EU leaders called for an intensification of efforts from EU Member States, a rapid mobilisation of the EU funding for refugees and their hosts, and the development of contingency plans. Particular attention should be paid to the needs of the most vulnerable and measures to tackle human trafficking. Leaders also reaffirmed the commitment to stand by Moldova and its people.
Leaders welcomed the synchronisation of the Ukrainian and Moldovan electricity grids with the EU grid. They called on the safety of Ukrainian nuclear facilities to be ensured. They also agreed to set up a Ukraine Solidarity Fund, aimed at supporting the government for its immediate needs and for the reconstruction of a democratic Ukraine. There was an acknowledgment of Ukraine's European aspirations and the European choice of Ukraine. The European Council reiterated its invitation that the European Commission submits its opinion on the Ukrainian application for EU membership.
There was a strategic debate on security and defence, building on the Versailles Declaration and taking into account the security situation in Europe. The European Council also endorsed the Strategic Compass, and invited the Council of the European Union to start implementing it in accordance with its timetable. Leaders stated that they were still awaiting an analysis of defence investment gaps and proposals on further initiatives addressing the strengthening of the European defence industrial and technological base. Measures should be taken by the end of 2022 to promote and facilitate access to private funding for the defence industry.
The European Council addressed the impact of increased energy prices and discussed options to mitigate it, based on proposals from the European Commission. Leaders invited EU Member States and the Commission to continue to make best use of the energy prices toolbox and the state aid temporary crisis framework. They also tasked the Council and the Commission to reach out to the energy stakeholders. They called on the Commission to submit proposals to effectively address excessive electricity prices, while preserving the integrity of the single market, maintaining incentives for the green transition, preserving the security of supply and avoiding disproportionate budgetary costs.
Leaders reviewed the EU's immediate term preparedness and the Commission's proposal for a gas storage policy. They called on the Council and Commission to work on ensuring the security of supplies for all Member States, establish solidarity and compensation mechanisms, work together on voluntary common purchase of gas, LNG and hydrogen, and complete and improve interconnections in the EU. The European Council also discussed how to take forward work on monitoring and optimising the electricity and carbon markets.
EU leaders called for work to be taken forward on building a more robust economic base through a more effective trade policy and towards reducing strategic dependencies. They also reaffirmed the importance of realising the full potential of the single market. They endorsed the policy priorities of the Annual Sustainable Growth Survey, and invited Member States to reflect them in the National Reform Programmes and Stability and Convergence Programmes. They endorsed the draft Council Recommendation on the economic policy of the Euro area.
The European Council invited the Commission to prioritise work on global food security and affordability. It reviewed coordination efforts in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic as well as progress on international cooperation on global health governance and solidarity, including a future pandemic instrument to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
Leaders also prepared the bilateral summit between China and the European Union. They discussed the political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and reiterated the country's European perspective alongside the rest of the Western Balkans region.
Lastly, the European Council re-elected Charles Michel as its President for a second term of two and a half years. He was also re-appointed as President of the Euro Summit.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|
|Subject Tags||European Council|
|Keywords||European Council Summits
|International Organisations||European Union [EU]|