again to test, the seams of the unity of the European Union resisted to the tensions caused by these first hundred days of Russia’s war in the Ukraine, in which the Twenty-seven turned to kyiv, and had to make concessions to Hungary to continue beating Moscow with increasingly harsh sanctions, the latest with a partial veto on oil.
Since last February 23, the eve of the start of this new aggression of the Kremlin to the territorial integrity Ukraine, the EU has already added six packages of sanctions against the Russian economy, with special emphasis on finances, transport and energy.
Its negotiation, approval and entry into force went relatively smoothly until the fifth, which gave the first bite to the energy sector, by introducing coal.
To pull off the latter, which includes the veto of 90% of Russian oil, It took a month of negotiations, even at the level of leaders, at the summit this Monday, and two concessions to Hungary: to continue supplying Russian crude oil by pipeline until an undetermined date and to remove the patriarch of the Orthodox Church from the list of sanctions Russian Kirill.
Thus, the unity that the Twenty-seven had shown since the beginning of the war in Ukraine is now in questionsince of the exception to the veto will also benefit Slovakia and the Czech Republicwhich will be able to continue buying oil from Russia through the Druzhba pipeline for an as yet undetermined time.
Already at the last summit this week, it was possible to observe a certain sanctioning fatigue on the part of the leaders of Austria or Belgium, Karl Nehammer and Alexander De Croo, who ruled out going further in the energy veto; although others, like the French Emmanuel Macron, preferred not to rule out an embargo on Russian gas.
According to estimates by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), the bloc has paid Moscow around 60,000 million euros for purchases of fossil fuels, of which 31,000 million are in oil and almost 27,000 million in gas.
But in von der Leyen’s opinion, all Russian energy is already covered in the EU reactioneither through sanctions (in the case of coal and oil) or the roadmap to divest two-thirds of Russian gas this year (REpowerEU).
To help Ukraine, the EU has connected the former Soviet republic to its electricity grid, whose economic output could fall by 50% this year, according to the UN. In support, the EU temporarily suspended tariffs and quotas on Ukrainian products.
Now this one is aboutopen ways to get cereals out of the country (it is estimated that there are some 20 million tons of wheat paralyzed) and other agricultural products, also with the aim of avoid the risk of famine in certain regions of the world due to the Moscow blockade.
50% of the World Food Program comes from Ukraine’s wheat, where two thirds of the country is covered by the so-called “black earth”, one of the most fertile soils in the world. On the other hand, Ukraine needs 5,000 million euros per month just to cover basic operating expenses, such as health, or pay pensions or salaries, among others. The EU has offered aextraordinary macro-financial assistance of 9,000 million euros for the country this year.
“We will do everything in our power to Ukrainians can once again be the masters of their own future“, affirmed this Thursday in Bratislava the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the first to say shortly after the start of the war that the Ukrainians they are part of the “European family”.
His candidacy for EU membership is expected to be debated at the summit of European leaders on the 23rd and 24th of this month.
A long way to go that will have to begin by lifting the country up once the war is over, and for which a reconstruction platform will be launched, in which “Ukrainian leadership must be paramount,” “everyone can contribute, including the private sector” and the EU will offer “a governance structure”.
However, in the words of Von der Leyen, “investments will only bear fruit if they are accompanied by ambitious reforms”, “a stronger rule of law or an attractive business environment”, since for a Ukraine “integrated into a future European (…) there are no wild cards or shortcuts.” In the meantime, the Twenty-seven have already spent more than six million Ukrainians sheltered as refugees on a temporary basis.
WEAPONS AND DEFENSE
Another novelty that this war has brought to the EU is aid to the Ukrainian armed forces, with 2,000 million euros to date to buy weapons.
But, in addition, the Russian threat paved the way to start the rearmament of the 27, led to Dinamarca to decide to join the Community Defense Policy after 30 years on the sidelines, while Finland and Sweden They applied to join NATO.
If these two countries are accepted, it will further expand the overlap between the Alliance and the EU, with only Ireland, Austria, Malta and Cyprus left out.