Developments in Ukraine and ways in which the EU can provide Ukraine with further humanitarian, economic and political support – including by examining its application for EU membership – are key issues to be discussed at the informal European Council starting on Thursday afternoon in Versailles, along with reducing EU reliance on Russian energy sources, strengthening the EU’s defence capabilities and reinforcing its economic foundations, according to government sources.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in a letter to the President of the European Commission, has already requested action to put a “brake” on the increase in gas prices, proposing a six-point plan of interventions aiming to disconnect geopolitics from the energy crisis, the same sources underlined. In the conclusions of the previous European Council, meanwhile, Mitsotakis also secured the adoption of a provision for a package to absorb fluctuations in energy prices for households and businesses. In addition, he is expected to again emphasise that this is a European-wide problem, which requires a European solution.
Regarding the discussion on further development and investment in the EU’s defence capabilities, Athens has taken a clear position on the need to strengthen the European security pillar, which will complement NATO and strengthen European strategic autonomy. Government officials pointed out that Mitsotakis has repeatedly raised the issue of excluding defence spending from fiscal rules, a debate that is becoming relevant again, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has revived the issue of European security and the need to give priority to reinforcing defence in a number of member-states.
On issues regarding Ukraine, the Greek side is going to reiterate its support, something that has been proven in practice by the sending humanitarian aid and defence equipment. On Ukraine’s application for EU membership, Athens agrees on the need to send a strong political message in support of Ukraine’s accession prospects. However, it should not be overlooked that the accession perspective is a process whose credibility should not be undermined.