Special European Council, 9 February 2023

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Publication Date 09/02/2023
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Heads of State or Government were summoned for a special European Council summit on 9 February 2023. They adopted conclusions on Ukraine, the economy, migration and other items, covering the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. At the start of the summit, EU leaders held an exchange of views in person with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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The European Council reiterated its condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its right of self-defence. It called for a stop to Russia's strikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure, full respect for international humanitarian law, including the treatment of prisoners of war, and the same return of Ukrainians who have been forcibly removed to Russia.

Leaders supported the development of an international centre for the prosecution of the crime of aggression against Ukraine. They also welcomed the operationalisation of the Donor Coordination Platform, and stated that the EU intended to step up efforts to use Russia's frozen and immobilised assets to support Ukraine's reconstruction. Finally, leaders stressed the importance of psychological and psycho-social support and rehabilitation, as well as the reintegration of war veterans into active civilian life.

The European Council also welcomed the speedy provision of military equipment to Ukraine by Member States, and the work of several institutions and stakeholders in supporting the macro-financial stability of Ukraine. The commitment to reinforce support of displaced persons was also reiterated. The European Council acknowledged the efforts that Ukraine has made to meet the objectives required for its EU candidate status and welcomed the country's reform efforts in a difficult context.

Leaders discussed how to ensure the European Union's long-term competitiveness, prosperity and role on the global stage. They also discussed how to harness the full potential of the EU single market, and how to ensure a level playing field both internally and globally. Based on the European Commission's Green Industrial Plan, leaders called for work to be taken forward on state aid policy, flexibility of EU funds, access to critical raw materials, boosting skills, and closing investment gaps. They also urged the co-legislators to speed up the implementation of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) Action Plan.

The European Council stressed the importance of fair and transparent free trade and investment agreements, and called for further efforts to diversity supply chains. It added that the EU must safeguard its interests when facing unfair practices. It urged the Council of the European Union and the European Commission to advance on the economic governance review.

Leaders discussed the migration situation, and assessed the implementation of their past conclusions on a comprehensive approach to migration. They called for immediate operational measures to be strengthened and accelerated and called on the Council to monitor and ensure the implementation of its conclusions. Leaders also discussed how to enhance cooperation with countries of origin and transit. They welcomed progress made by partners in the Western Balkans region as regards visa policy alignment, and stressed the importance of swift actions to ensure effective returns.

The European Council welcomed the efforts made by Member States in ensuring effective control of its external land and sea borders. It invited the Commission to finalise its European Integrated Border Management Strategy. It condemned attempts to instrumentalise migrants for political purposes. It also called on the Commission and the Council to develop a common situation awareness, and encouraged national authorities to request the support of EU agencies to ensure that all migrants entering the EU are properly registered. Leaders urged co-legislators to complete work relating to the Pact on Migration and Asylum.

EU leaders underlines the need for progress in the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo through the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue. They also extended their condolences to the victims of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. The European Council called on all to ensure humanitarian access to the victims of the disaster in Syria irrespective of where they are.

Source Link https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2023/02/09/
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Commentary and Analysis
EurActiv, 09/02/2023: Austria threatens to block EU summit conclusions on migration https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/austria-threatens-to-block-eu-summit-conclusions-on-migration/
EUObserver, 09/02/2023: Border fences are an indictment of EU state asylum failures https://euobserver.com/migration/156695
Euro|topics, February 2023: EU Summit: the endless argument over migration policy https://www.eurotopics.net/en/296273/
Independent (UK), 11/02/2023: Prepped and eloquent, Zelenskyy wows Europe's leaders https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/ap-ukraine-charles-michel-rishi-sunak-mark-rutte-b2280108.html
The Irish Times: Editorial, 12/02/2023: The Irish Times view on refugees coming to Europe: leaders need to mind their language https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/editorials/2023/02/12/the-irish-times-view-on-refugees-coming-to-europe-leaders-need-to-mind-their-language/
EPRS: Briefing, February 2023: Outcome of the special European Council meeting of 9 February 2023 https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document/EPRS_BRI(2023)740215

EUObserver, 08/02/2023: EU leaders attempt to hash out response to US green subsidies https://euobserver.com/green-economy/156692
Reuters, 08/02/2023: EU leaders to debate green industry plan with eye on March deal https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/eu-leaders-debate-green-industry-plan-with-eye-march-deal-2023-02-08/
Reuters, 08/02/2023: Zelenskiy to ask EU summit for more arms and quick accession - Ukrainian official https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/zelenskiy-ask-eu-summit-arms-quick-accession-ukrainian-official-2023-02-08/
EurActiv, 08/02/2023: Solidarity and joint borrowing scrapped from EU leaders summit statement https://www.euractiv.com/section/economy-jobs/news/solidarity-and-joint-borrowing-scrapped-from-eu-leaders-summit-statement/
Politico, 08/02/2023: France and Germany go it alone as EU summit prepares to tackle fightback against US https://www.politico.eu/article/france-and-germany-go-it-alone-as-eu-leaders-meet/
EurActiv, 09/02/2023: Ukraine’s Zelenskyy has four key asks for EU leaders https://www.euractiv.com/section/europe-s-east/news/ukraines-zelenskyy-has-four-key-asks-for-eu-leaders/
Euronews, 09/02/2023: I can't return to Ukraine 'without results', Zelenskyy says during Brussels visits https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2023/02/09/live-zelenskyy-in-brussels-for-parliament-speech-and-leaders-summit
France24, 09/02/2023: A free Europe cannot exist without a free Ukraine, Zelensky tells EU lawmakers https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20230209-live-zelensky-macron-will-travel-together-to-eu-summit-in-brussels
Euronews, 09/02/2023: EU summit: Italy's Giorgia Meloni pushes for stricter migration laws https://www.euronews.com/2023/02/09/eu-summit-italys-giorgia-meloni-pushes-for-stricter-migration-laws
BBC News, 10/02/2023: Ukraine war: Zelensky takes fighter jet bid to EU leaders https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-64577375
The Guardian, 10/02/2023: EU leaders plan tougher border controls as more people claim asylum https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/10/eu-leaders-plan-tougher-border-controls-as-more-people-claim-asylum

European Council: Invitation letter by President Charles Michel to the members of the European Council (8 February 2023) https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/02/08/invitation-letter-by-president-charles-michel-to-the-members-of-the-european-council/
European Council conclusions, 9 February 2023 https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/02/09/european-council-conclusions-9-february-2023/
European Council: Intervention du président Charles Michel lors de la conférence de presse avec le président ukranien Volodymir Zelensky et la présidente de la Commission européenne Ursula von der Leyen (9 February 2023) https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/02/09/intervention-du-president-charles-michel-a-la-suite-de-la-recontre-des-membres-du-conseil-europeen-avec-le-president-ukrainien-volodymyr-zelensky/
European Commission: Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy on the occasion of the special meeting of the European Council of 9 February 2023 (9 February 2023) https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_23_722
European Parliament: Press Release, 09/02/2023: EP President Metsola to the Special European Council: Important day for European unity https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20230209IPR74201/
European Council: Intervention du président Charles Michel lors de la conférence de presse de la réunion extraordinaire du Conseil européen de février (10 February 2023) https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/02/10/intervention-du-president-charles-michel-lors-de-la-conference-de-presse-de-la-reunion-extraordinaire-du-conseil-europeen-de-fevrier/
European Commission: Opening remarks by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel following the special meeting of the European Council of 9 February 2023 (10 February 2023) https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_23_761

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