GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 619, 13 March 2022

Ukraine: The Versailles declaration of the EU leaders
Joeana Cera Matthews

What happened?
On 10 March, the EU leaders gathered for an emergency meeting at the Palace of Versailles in France. The two-day summit, hosted by France, concluded with the EU leaders adopting a declaration on the Russian aggression against Ukraine and measures to be more self-reliant.

Addressing the summit, France’s President Emmanuel Macron said: “Europe has changed in the face of the pandemic. It is going to change even more and faster in the face of war.” Macron also commented on Ukraine’s appeal for an accelerated EU accession: “Can we open a membership procedure with a country at war? I don't think so. Can we shut the door and say: 'never'? It would be unfair. Can we forget about the balance points in that region? Let's be cautious.”

On 11 March, the Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte commented on Ukraine’s request for an accession: “There is no such thing as a fast-tracking of accession. It doesn’t exist.” Backing Rutte, Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said: “Nobody entered the European Union overnight.”

Meanwhile, Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda addressed journalists: “I wish Ukraine gets the candidate status now... but it was not possible today, but we will come back to this issue.” The Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins added: “It is important to show a clear, open door for EU membership for Ukraine, that the path is open for them to take.”

What is the background?
First Ukraine’s candidature. Although the bloc sympathized with Ukraine, it denied Ukraine’s request for a quick accession. The debate about Ukraine’s accession into the bloc has been a long-drawn one. The EU requires specific terms and conditions to be met before countries are accepted into the bloc; Ukraine still has a long way to go. The bloc is unable to fasten the accession process, even with Ukraine under attack.

Second, Russia and Europe’s energy dependence. Europe depends on Russia for 40 per cent of its natural gas, 27 per cent of oil imports and 46 per cent of coal. Calls by members such as Latvia and Poland to cut off Russian fossil fuels implies a direct hit to the already declining economy. The impact of such a move will be primarily suffered by Germany, Austria and Hungary, whose economies will dwindle given their heavy dependence on Russian energy. Nonetheless, the lack of unity regarding an embargo did not hinder a unanimous approval to reduce dependency on Russian energy.

Third, the refugee crisis. The UN refugee agency - the UNHCR claims 2.2 million Ukrainians to have fled the country with more than half of this number being children. The large-scale displacement has increased vulnerability for Ukraine’s neighbouring countries - Poland, Moldova, Lithuania and Romania. Before the Russian invasion, the EU was already facing a refugee crisis due to the migrant inflow from Belarus and the English Channel; this only adds to their woes.

Fourth, efforts at strengthening the economy. Contributing to the wavering Euro, the EU leaders decided to increase their spending on Ukraine. Italy and France called for the issuance of a fresh joint debt which was firmly opposed by Germany and the Netherlands, citing unused funds from the EUR 800 billion pandemic recovery fund. Nonetheless, the declaration suggests a European investment plan along with a phased bond-purchasing program by the European Central Bank (ECB). Several other measures were also suggested to rebuild the economy despite the crisis.

Fifth, towards armaments. The summit was a watershed moment in the bloc’s history, given its decision to arm an ongoing conflict. Since the Russian invasion, the bloc has approved EUR 1.5 billion in defence aid to Ukraine. Although collective security has always been NATO’s forte, the bloc realized the need to be self-reliant. Macron, championing the European Defense Union, stated that it was time for the EU to be serious about its defence spending. Even the historically neutral Sweden, via its Prime Minister, backed this along with a hesitant Germany. 

What does it mean?
First, the consensus and divide. The war in Ukraine has raised what the EU stands for while it reconsiders its economic, defence and energy policies. Although the leaders bickered over a few issues, a larger consensus remained regarding fundamentals such as strategic autonomy, economy-building and condemnation of Russian aggression. Simultaneously, there was also a divide in individual policies regarding energy and joint debt issuances. The bloc will need to get its act together and showcase a united front in its response to Russia.

Second, the lack of response from Ukraine. Ukraine is yet to respond to the declaration and the comments made by leaders at the summit. Given that the country hoped to receive a positive reply regarding their accession appeal, their response will be noteworthy. The brunt of the Russian aggression is borne by Ukraine alone, the lack of a guaranteed membership will only make the path forward tough. 

31 August 2023 | GP Short Notes # 730
Colombia: One year of “total peace” plan
26 August 2023 | GP Short Notes # 728
Niger: Continuing standoff
20 August 2023 | GP Short Notes # 727
Ethiopia: Another conflict in Amhara

20 August 2023 | GP Short Notes # 726
Moscow conference on international security
17 August 2023 | GP Short Notes # 724
Hawaii: The wildfires
17 August 2023 | GP Short Notes # 723
Ecuador: Increasing political violence

13 August 2023 | GP Short Notes # 722
Amazon Summit: A united front for saving the rainforest
13 August 2023 | GP Short Notes # 721
Japan-Australia's Reciprocal Access Agreement
10 August 2023 | GP Short Notes # 719
The War in Ukraine: Escalation after drone attacks

10 August 2023 | GP Short Notes # 718
Niger: Standoff after the coup
27 July 2023 | GP Short Notes # 717
Protests over Judicial Reforms in Israel
27 July 2023 | GP Short Notes # 716
Kenya: Anti-government protests turn violent
27 July 2023 | GP Short Notes # 715
Niger: Another Coup 

20 July 2023 | GP Short Notes # 713
Syria: Stalemate over Aid extension
6 July 2023 | GP Short Notes # 709
Israel: Violence in Jenin
6 July 2023 | GP Short Notes # 708
Mali: Termination of the UN Mission - MINUSMA
2 July 2023 | GP Short Notes # 706
Pakistan: Finally, a deal with the IMF
2 July 2023 | GP Short Notes # 705
France: Summit for a New Global Financing Pact 
2 July 2023 | GP Short Notes # 704
New High Seas Treaty: Beyond National Jurisdiction 
29 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 703
Sudan: Nine Ceasefires, No Solution in Sight

29 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 702
Russia: Rise and Fall of the Wagner Revolt
25 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 701
Russia: Anatomy of Wagner Revolt, and its Fallouts
22 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 699
Greece: Migrant boat disaster and humanitarian crisis

22 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 698
Uganda: Resurging insurgency
11 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 696
The Debt crisis in Pakistan
11 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 695
Domestic instability in Colombia

11 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 694
Political Crises in Maldives
8 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 693
Canada: Raging Wildfires and its fallouts
5 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 692
The US: Debt Ceiling Notches up higher
5 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 691
Turkey's Election: Erdogan's reign to continue

5 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 690
North Korea: Nuclear, Missile and now Space
1 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 687
Violence in Kosovo: Dangers of Escalation
1 June 2023 | GP Short Notes # 686
Russia and Ukraine: A New Drone Warfare

28 May 2023 | GP Short Notes # 684
G7 Summit: Unity, Polarization and Challenges
28 May 2023 | GP Short Notes # 683
Thailand elections: Victory of democracy
25 May 2023 | GP Short Notes # 681
Ukraine: Russia claims victory in Bakhmut
25 May 2023 | GP Short Notes # 680
Sudan: A Seventh Ceasefire
25 May 2023 | GP Short Notes # 679
Arab League: The Return of Syria
16 April 2023 | GP Short Notes # 673
France: Contended pension reform bill becomes law
9 April 2023 | GP Short Notes # 671
OPEC: Reducing crude oil production
9 April 2023 | GP Short Notes # 670
Space: NASA announces crew for the Artemis II mission

9 April 2023 | GP Short Notes # 698
France and China: The Macron-Xi meeting
2 April 2023 | GP Short Notes # 697
NATO: Turkey greenlights Finland’s membership
2 April 2023 | GP Short Notes # 696
Expanding Russia-South Africa relations

19 March 2023 | GP Short Notes # 694
AUKUS Submarine Deal
19 March 2023 | GP Short Notes # 693
Saudi Arabia: Resumption of diplomatic ties with Iran
8 March 2023 | GP Short Notes # 692
Macron’s visit to Africa: Three Takeaways

Click below links for year wise archive
2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018

Click here for old Short Notes