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Outlook for the European Council assembly of 24-25 March 2022 | Epthinktank


Written by Suzana Anghel and Ralf Drachenberg.

On 24-25 March 2022, EU Heads of State or Authorities will meet for the third time in 5 weeks. Within the presence of the USA President, Joe Biden, they’ll talk about developments in and help for Ukraine, within the context of the unprovoked Russian invasion of the nation. Constructing on their Versailles Declaration of 10-11 March, EU leaders will take additional steps geared toward strengthening European sovereignty within the subject of safety, defence and vitality safety. As regards safety and defence, the European Council will endorse the EU Strategic Compass, name for its implementation, and provides additional tips for the deepening of European defence cooperation. With respect to vitality, EU leaders will think about means to counter the present spike in vitality costs, think about gasoline storage capacities and planning in view of the subsequent winter and resume discussions on phasing out EU dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Moreover, the European Council will take inventory of coordination efforts in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, appraise the European Semester, and evaluation initiatives designed to construct a extra strong financial base and cut back the EU’s strategic dependence in essentially the most delicate areas. Underneath exterior relations, gadgets on the agenda will embody the preparation of the forthcoming EU-China Summit and the political disaster in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Council shall be adopted by a Euro Summit assembly on 25 March.

1. European Council agenda factors

The indicative 2021-2022 Leaders’ Agenda, up to date on the December 2021 European Council assembly, had outlined safety and defence, financial restoration, the social agenda, the European Semester, and the one market and industrial coverage as subjects for the March European Council assembly. Whereas safety and defence, and the European Semester, had been already on the provisional agenda, the battle within the Ukraine and vitality costs have been added because of present occasions.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, has ready for this assembly through the use of his personal ‘Michel methodology’, which includes video-conferences with small teams of 4 to 6 EU leaders forward of the summit to arrange the bottom. This strategy offers Mr Michel with a chance to precise his intentions as to the consequence he’s searching for to acquire and to achieve an perception into particular person nationwide leaders’ views on sure agenda factors, thus decreasing surprises on the assembly itself.

Charles Michel’s (first) time period as European Council President involves an finish on 30 Might 2022. On condition that, since 2009, the (re-)election of the European Council President has taken place on the final formal European Council assembly earlier than the tip of the mandate, it may be anticipated that EU leaders will take a call on the subsequent European Council President. According to custom, for this agenda level, the Head of State or Authorities holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, presently the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, will take the chair.

Having already attended two casual conferences of Heads of State or Authorities, this would be the first formal European Council assembly for Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament. Following Ms Metsola’s opening deal with, President Macron, once more on behalf of the nation holding the six-month rotating presidency, is predicted to offer an summary of progress made in implementing earlier European Council conclusions.

2. European Council assembly

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

EU leaders will once more talk about Russia’s navy aggression towards Ukraine, this time within the presence of United States (US) President Joe Biden. They’re anticipated to reaffirm transatlantic unity and stress solidarity with Ukraine. The discussions may inexperienced mild a fifth spherical of sanctions, together with on oil and coal however most likely not on gasoline. The European Council will likely think about the deteriorating humanitarian state of affairs within the nation. This can be a matter of grave concern for the worldwide neighborhood, as over 3 million Ukrainians have fled the nation within the three weeks since Russia’s invasion started. The leaders may even as soon as extra think about help for EU and non-EU frontline nations, that are dealing with an unrelenting inflow of refugees. Moreover, EU leaders will likely reiterate their name to make sure the security of Ukraine’s nuclear energy crops, with help from the Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company. For the primary time, EU leaders might think about Union help for reconstruction, which ought to go hand in hand with peace preparation efforts and will double the EU help provided to Ukraine below the European Peace Facility because the begin of the battle.

Three EU leaders, the Prime Ministers of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, Czechia, Petr Fiala, and Slovenia, Janez Janša, met with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, in Kyiv on 15 March 2022. The go to, geared toward expressing EU help for Ukraine, its sovereignty and independence, was the primary by Western leaders since Russia’s invasion started, and the opposite European Council members knew of it prematurely. Petr Fiala emphasised that Ukraine was ‘additionally combating for our lives’, whereas Mateusz Morawiecki confused {that a} Europe that loses Ukraine ‘will not be Europe’ however ‘a defeated, humiliated and pathetic model of its former self’. At their assembly in Versailles, EU leaders recognised the ‘European aspirations and the European alternative of Ukraine’, with public opinion polls displaying clear European public condemnation of Russia’s invasion and help for Ukraine’s request for membership.

The Russian Federation was excluded from the Council of Europe – the pan-European organisation upholding human rights – by a determination of the organisation’s Committee of Ministers on 16 March. Russia had already initiated the process to go away in a pre-emptive try to keep away from being excluded. Again in 2016, Russia withdrew from becoming a member of the Worldwide Prison Courtroom (ICC) on the time when the Courtroom started investigating battle crimes in South Ossetia following Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia. In March 2022, the ICC opened an investigation into ‘alleged crimes dedicated within the context of the state of affairs in Ukraine since 21 November 2013’, which might permit it to analyze ‘battle crimes, crimes towards humanity or genocide dedicated on any a part of the territory of Ukraine’.

In parallel, on 16 March 2022, within the Ukraine v.Russian Federation case, the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice thought-about Ukraine’s request for a sign of provisional measures and ordered Russia ‘to droop the navy operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 within the territory of Ukraine’. The Courtroom reaffirmed the binding impact of its order, which creates ‘worldwide authorized obligations for any get together to whom the provisional measures are addressed’.

Safety and defence

Safety and defence have been a rolling merchandise on the agenda of the European Council for the previous six months. EU leaders final mentioned safety and defence at their casual Versailles assembly, the place they adopted a declaration and issued new strategic tips for the additional improvement and deepening of European defence cooperation. At their spring assembly, the leaders are anticipated to endorse the Strategic Compass, which has not too long ago been reviewed at their request, including extra strong language on the risk posed by Russia to European safety in mild of the battle in Ukraine. The Strategic Compass, which was drafted with a view to offering a standard perspective on the safety threats and challenges dealing with the EU, is predicted to lend additional impetus to the EU’s bid to change into a safety and defence actor. The aim is for the EU to have the ability to defend its residents, to react rapidly to crises and to deepen partnerships with like-minded companions, such because the United Nations and NATO.

The battle in Ukraine raises greater than ever the query of sources and allocate them effectively. At Versailles, the European Parliament’s President, Roberta Metsola, confused that the EU ‘should transcend the European Defence Fund and make the EU funds work for our safety and defence coverage every time it provides worth’. A current EPRS research pointed to ‘usually giant common quantities of waste’ in present EU Member States’ spending; within the subject of defence, this waste was cumulatively estimated at €32 billion for deployable troops, and €13 billion for procurement and analysis and improvement.

Vitality safety

Vitality will characteristic on the agenda of the European Council for the fifth time since October 2021. EU leaders will once more talk about vitality costs and the way finest to cut back fossil gasoline dependency, notably the phasing out of gasoline and oil imports from Russia. European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed in Versailles that, by Might 2022, the European Fee would current a plan to section out fossil gasoline dependency on Russia by 2027. Concerning the spike in vitality costs, a primary collection of short-term measures had been taken in 2021. Given the worsening state of affairs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EU leaders are anticipated to debate additional short- and medium-term measures to deal with vitality costs and safety of provide, such because the refilling of gasoline storage amenities throughout the continent. The European Fee is predicted to publish a communication on this topic on 23 March, to offer enter forward of the European Council assembly.

Quite a few different initiatives will feed into the talk. Forward of the Versailles summit, on 9 March, the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, had addressed a letter to President von der Leyen, proposing a six-point plan to counter the ‘weaponisation’ of gasoline because of Russia’s battle in Ukraine, together with ‘focused and short-term market intervention’ to keep away from hypothesis. A ‘mini “Mediterranean summit”‘ held in Rome allowed Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain to articulate a standard place on reforming the vitality market. The mini-summit was a part of a wider European tour the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, undertook with the goal of constructing consensus forward of the European Council assembly. 

A brand new section within the Covid-19 pandemic

Because the variety of coronavirus-related deaths within the EU continues to fall, EU leaders might point out the significance of EU coordination on the elimination of restrictions and on growing the vaccination marketing campaign that has lessened essentially the most extreme results of Covid-19. This will lead the European Council to reiterate the necessity to coordinate on future preparedness, particularly on the ‘well being union’ package deal.

The European Council will most definitely welcome the determination authorising the opening of negotiations for a global settlement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Charles Michel first proposed the thought in November 2020, and the European Council supported it on the time. EU leaders might reiterate their dedication to contributing to the worldwide response to Covid‑19, each bilaterally and by guaranteeing entry to vaccines by COVAX. This dedication has been repeated by the European Council in 10 of its conferences because the outbreak of the pandemic.

Financial points

It has been a convention that EU leaders use the March European Council assembly to debate the European Semester – the framework for the coordination of financial insurance policies throughout the EU – ever since its launch in 2011 within the context of the sovereign debt disaster. Implementation of the Restoration and Resilience Facility (RFF) – arrange in 2020 in response to the financial penalties of the pandemic – can also be now reviewed in the course of the European Semester. EU Heads of State or Authorities are anticipated to endorse the annual sustainable development survey (ASGS) and the draft Council advice on the financial coverage of the euro space, additionally a part of the 2022 European Semester train.

EU leaders will comply with up on the targets set out within the 2019-2024 Strategic Agenda, and firmly reiterated within the Versailles Declaration, geared toward constructing a extra strong financial base and fostering funding. The main target shall be on decreasing the EU’s strategic dependence in essentially the most delicate areas: important uncooked supplies, semi-conductors, well being, digital and meals. The European Council is predicted to name for the completion of the one market, to ensure that it to understand its full potential. The digital and providers parts ought to be prime precedence on the subject of eradicating the remaining unjustified obstacles and administrative burdens, interconnecting ecosystems throughout Member States extra successfully, and implementing single market guidelines. EU leaders may additionally deal with the actions of the European Fee on the problem of meals safety.

Exterior relations

EU leaders will likely think about relations with China in preparation for the EU-China Summit on 1 April 2022. Two points are prone to be central to the talk: China’s positioning over the battle in Ukraine and the way forward for EU-China bilateral relations, together with on commerce and safety. In 2021, the European Parliament froze its ratification of the EU-China Complete Settlement on Funding (CAI) pending the lifting of sanctions imposed towards ‘European people and entities, together with 5 MEPs’.

EU leaders may even talk about the deterioration of the political state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previous to the assembly, the Excessive Consultant/Vice-President of the European Fee (HR/VP), Josep Borrell, visited the nation, stressing that its future and the way forward for the western Balkan area ‘lies within the European Union, as the very best supplier for peace and safety’.

3. Euro Summit

On 25 March, EU leaders will convene for a Euro Summit assembly in inclusive format, to be able to evaluation progress on finishing the banking union and the capital markets union, as indicated within the declaration issued on the final Euro Summit assembly, of 16 December 2021.

EU leaders are anticipated to think about the Fee’s communication of two March 2022 on ‘Fiscal coverage steering for 2023‘, in addition to the assertion of 14 March 2022 by the Eurogroup (i.e. the finance ministers of the Member States within the eurozone) on fiscal steering for 2023. The Eurogroup President, Paschal Donohoe, expects a gradual evolution in fiscal coverage, resulting in a broadly impartial total fiscal stance in 2023 for the euro space, however confused that because of uncertainties and dangers, the EU wanted to stay agile and versatile in its coverage response. Following the most recent Eurogroup assembly, given the remaining availability of funds below Subsequent Era EU (NGEU) and the dearth of settlement between Member States, it appears unlikely that EU leaders will return to the thought of making new mutual bonds, alongside the traces of the NGEU pandemic restoration fund, to answer the results of the battle in Ukraine.


Learn this briefing on ‘Outlook for the European Council assembly of 24-25 March 2022‘ within the Suppose Tank pages of the European Parliament.



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