European Council: Combining solidarity with Ukraine with the need to advance on the policy agenda

As the heads of state and government of the Member States convened for a Special European Council summit in Brussels yesterday, they managed a remarkable balancing between a required continued solidarity with Ukraine and a much-needed return to a new normal on the EU’s policy programme.

The war in Ukraine and the Russian aggressions towards the country take a predominant role in the  conclusions that the European Council adopted. “The European Union will stand by Ukraine with steadfast support for as long as it takes“, they state. And while no concrete timetable is given for an accession of Ukraine to the EU, the conclusions emphasise that “Ukraine’s future lies within the European Union.

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “The European Council rightly made clear that war fatigue is no option and Ukraine needs further support. At the same time, leaders understandably could not make a clear commitment about when Ukraine might one day join the EU. Cleary, not only must Ukraine fulfill all Copenhagen criteria, but it is also only practical that the war needs to end before an accession can become a concrete issue. The leaders struck a balance between giving Ukraine a real perspective in the EU while at the same time facing the realities of war in the country and making clear that its economy and institutional architecture do not yet match EU standards.”

Beyond the war in Ukraine, the conclusions of the European Council also focus on the strengthening of the EU’s strategic industrial and technological sovereignty and on its economic competitiveness including skills shortage policies.

Klaus Heeger added: “The EU faces vast challenges across the policy spectrum. While the Covid pandemic paralised the EU over a long period of time, we must make sure that the EU will not be paralysed again by the war in Ukraine and can pursue its internal policy agenda. Inflation and energy prices, industrial competitiveness, fair and effective business taxation, decent work, and of course the mega topic of a fair green-digital twin transition: The EU cannot allow to be in a standstill.”

Full conclusions of the European Council