European Council meeting in Brussels
After the European Council meeting in Brussels, Federal Chancellor Scholz stressed: “The signal coming out of this summit is that Europe has a solid standing and is capable of taking measures to combat the crisis.” Among other things, the heads of state and government of the 27 EU member states laid the foundations for taking joint action and decisions on the issue of energy prices.
Assessment of gas price cap commissioned
The heads of state and government of the 27 EU member states have agreed to work on a cap to prevent extreme increases in the price of gas. The aim is to limit periods of excessively high gas prices. “Our common goal is to achieve low energy prices and a secure energy supply,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz after the European Council meeting in Brussels. EU leaders have now specified precise benchmarks as a basis for the energy ministers to establish concrete details.
According to the Federal Chancellor, leaders started by agreeing that private companies buying gas could join forces and form consortia together. “This is a great step forward,” he said. In addition, he went on, a joint purchasing operation was to be set up to arrange for part of the European gas storage facilities to be filled. This – along with early coordination – was to be particularly welcomed with a view to the winter of 2023, said Scholz.
In addition, he noted, it would enable permits for the expansion of renewable energies to be issued even more swiftly. “This is another crucial step forward in terms of the decisions we need to make.”
Focus on financing issues
There were various funds already available to the EU that could be accessed to strengthen Europe for the future, said Scholz, including the European Reconstruction Fund. In addition, he noted, the finance ministers had agreed on the financing of the REPowerEU programme with a volume of almost 250 billion euros: “Here we’re aiming to advance the expansion of renewable energies and promote independence from Russia concerning energy.”
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz: “Europe stands together! We stand together at the side of Ukraine. We stand together against Putin and Russian aggression. We stand together to face the consequences of the Russian invasion and high energy prices.”
War in Ukraine
The European Council also addressed the various dimensions of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, including the recent escalation and the impact of the conflict. As the Federal Chancellor said: “We remain united and determined to continue to provide political, humanitarian, and financial support for Ukraine – as well as supplying arms.”
The Ukrainian President Zelensky was connected via video and described the terrible attacks on the power plants and other civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and the consequences this was having. According to Federal Chancellor Scholz, this was why it was right to make it a priority now to protect the people in Kyiv, Odessa and many other cities and areas from Russian air and drone attacks.
Discussion of China
Finally, the European Council meeting provided an opportunity to exchange views on external relations. Partnership between the EU and Asian countries was a key issue here. The Federal Chancellor underlined the sovereignty and independence of the EU. The European Union prided itself on being an alliance that was interested in global trade and did not side with those who promote deglobalisation, said Scholz, adding that there was an obvious need for it to strengthen its own sovereignty, too.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz: “There are 27 of us. We have 27 very different past histories – and differing interests on specific issues in some cases. But we stand together as Europe. That’s something we’ve demonstrated once again at this meeting. The signal coming out of this summit is that Europe has a solid standing and is capable of taking measures to combat the crisis.”