An informal European Council to respond to the Russian escalation

An informal European Council to respond to the Russian escalation

EU leaders will discuss how to step up their support for Ukraine at an informal European Council meeting in Prague on Friday (7 October). On the agenda are new measures to stem the rise in energy prices and a firm response to the potential sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline.

In his letter of invitation to European leaders, published on Sunday (2 October), European Council President Charles Michel called on the EU to send a firm response to Russia, particularly given the declaration of annexation of four regions of Ukraine in the past week.

«At our meeting we will discuss how to provide strong economic, military, political and financial support to Ukraine for as long as needed.‘ said Mister Michel.

The illegal annexation by Russia was officially announced after Moscow held so-called “referendums” in the occupied territories of Ukraine. The Western and Kyiv governments condemned the polls, saying they violated international law.

The informal summit in Prague should also provide guidance on the next steps the EU should take to deal with rising energy prices, Michel said.

«Our main goal is to ensure security of supply and affordable energy prices for our homes and businesses, especially as the cold winter approaches.‘ he explained.

On Friday 30 September, EU energy ministers adopted a new package of measures to combat high energy costs, including taxing energy companies on windfall profits.

The European Commission said it will “shortly» Proposals to combat high gas prices.

However, member states remain divided on what will happen next, with many calling for an EU-wide gas price cap while others, including Europe’s economic powerhouse Germany, oppose it.

EU leaders are also expected to discuss how to protect their critical infrastructure. European countries have already tightened security measures to maintain energy supplies in the North Sea and off the coast of Italy, while investigations into unexplained leaks from Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea continue.

These incidents have prompted some countries to send in the military to secure potentially vulnerable power systems.

On Saturday (October 1), following the blasts, Norway said its allies were helping it patrol its offshore oil and gas platforms.

The European Commission, meanwhile, announced last week that it would launch a “resistance teston the security of critical European infrastructures, but the implications of such a move remain unclear.

Although not officially on the agenda, the informal summit could also prompt a fresh discussion on the next round of EU sanctions against Russia.

Last Friday, the EU ambassadors in Brussels discussed the new sanctions proposal. Several European diplomats have said they hope to get final approval next week. If they fail to reach an agreement, the discussion should be delegated to European leaders.

The new import sanctions would tighten the screws on Russia’s industries, including steel and iron products, paper and timber, but critics of Russia may be disappointed because many of their ideas are not included in the text.

Reference: www.euractiv.fr

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