EU leaders will be convening in Brussels for a special European Council meeting on Ukraine and the effects of this conflict on the EU. Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela is in Brussels to participate in this meeting.
What’s on the table?
Following disagreements between EU Ambassadors in COREPER this morning on the 6th sanctions package, leaders will undoubtedly discuss the issue. This issue is expected to create quite some tension in the room, as on the one side, Hungary is holding up the approval of these sanctions, while on the other, some Member States want to go ahead in a bid to stifle the Russian economy from oil revenues.
Hungary has argued that its dependence on Russian oil is around 65% and therefore wants the pipeline that supplies it with crude oil to be excluded from these sanctions for four years. Additionally, Hungary wants billions of euros for it to adapt its refineries.
A new compromise text was discussed this morning, which offered Hungary a two-year temporary exclusion. Yet there has been no mention of the funds Hungary is requesting so far.
Analysts suggest that Hungary’s position could have resulted from years of animosity between the Hungarian government and the European Commission, resulting in the blocking of funds to Hungary over rule of law issues.
Leaders are also expected to give the green light to the European Commission to provide emergency funding for the reconstruction of Ukraine, in the amount of €9 billion. These funds are expected to be in the form of loans, which the European Commission will borrow on Ukraine’s behalf at very low-interest rates.
In the discussions over this initiative, the European Commission will be suggesting that this loan starts to be repaid after ten years and that the EU Member States would have to provide financial guarantees for this loan.
However, not all Member States are on board with this approach, as Germany prefers to give Ukraine grants instead of loans.
Discussions at the European Council are also expected to focus on global food security and energy. Emphasis will be made on the issue of renewables.
The European Council is expected to mandate the European Commission to scale up its efforts in providing funding and create the necessary frameworks for new and innovative renewable energy sources.