Politics - October 27, 2023by Ulderico de Laurentiis
The 26th and 27th of October see the meeting of the European Council and the Euro Summit.
The meeting will certainly not be easy, more than ever, and the participants will have to deal with issues that are all priorities and require a serious and joint response.
Indeed, in the light of recent events that have upset the entire international order, the European Union is called upon to react and to adopt its own position on the geopolitical stage.
Today, more than ever, its contribution is crucial in the search for a new stability and a lasting peace, so that conflicts such as those in Ukraine and in the Middle East do not recur, and do not recur with the terrible intensity that we are witnessing.
The draft conclusions were published on 22 October and discussed by the EU General Affairs Council on 24 October.
Before the start of the debate, the President of the Council, Charles Michel, sent a letter to the members of the Council. The text sent and published reads: “Our meeting takes place at a time of great global instability and uncertainty”, proving that this is as complex a time as ever for even the highest institutions to live and manage.
In his letter, President Michel lists the topics on the agenda: the situation in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine, the mid-term review of the EU’s long-term budget, Europe’s economic competitiveness, migration and external relations (in particular the situation in the Sahel and the Balkans).
The Middle East
President Michel stated: “The situation in the Middle East is a tragedy”. And then he said: “I expect our meeting to reiterate our strong condemnation of Hamas’ brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks against Israel and to recognise Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with international law and humanitarian law. We must discuss how to ensure, as a matter of urgency, the effective delivery of humanitarian aid and access to the most basic needs. We must also work with partners in a united and coherent front to avoid a dangerous regional escalation of the conflict.
On the subject of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the EU Council had already issued a statement on the situation in the Middle East on 15 October. On that occasion, the Council members agreed on the unequivocal condemnation of the Hamas terrorist organisation, on the need to take measures to ensure all kinds of humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip, and demanded from Hamas the immediate release of the hostages. In other words, a clear position in favour of the State of Israel to defend itself and counter any act of terrorism and any action that violates the rules of international law.
It was in this spirit that President Charles Michel convened an extraordinary meeting of the European Council on 17 October to assess the situation in the Middle East.
At the European Council meeting on 26 and 27 October, EU leaders will have the opportunity to continue discussions on the dire situation facing the peoples concerned. Key priorities include the effective and urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to those most in need, and how to engage with partners to avoid a dangerous regional escalation of the conflict.
Another key issue is the crisis in Ukraine, which, despite the terrible events in the Middle East, needs to be properly and continuously monitored by European authorities and institutions.
It will be essential to discuss the financial, military and humanitarian support to be offered for as long as the Ukrainian people need it. The Council also intends to discuss the possibility of agreeing an eighth package of military assistance to Ukraine, which is currently blocked by Hungary’s veto.
The EU remains committed to Ukraine and its people and will continue to provide strong support for as long as necessary.
The EU’s closeness to the Ukrainian cause has been evident from the start, so much so that in June 2022 Ukraine was granted EU candidate status, with a pledge to help rebuild the country once the conflict is over.
The latest action in support of the Ukrainian people was the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 October 2023, which discussed how best to meet Ukraine’s most urgent needs, including through increased air defence and ammunition. The ministers then discussed concrete proposals for the country’s future defence and security, which should also be pursued through the most structural and robust peace concept possible, alongside the United Nations.
To date, EU assistance has amounted to €82 billion.
On the economic front, EU leaders are reviewing progress and discussing the steps that need to be taken to create a robust economy capable of meeting future needs. The aim is always to build a common economic system that is stronger and more resilient for the future.
It is therefore essential to discuss industrial policy, the internal market and the ways in which we can achieve energy autonomy, including a more sustainable path not only for the environment but also for society as a whole.
Another issue that has captured the attention of EU leaders in recent years is the migration crisis. However, despite the many policies implemented in this area, it is only in the last year that there has been a change of course, undoubtedly also brought about by the now unsustainable migratory pressure, which makes it no longer possible to manage this crisis simply by redistribution within European borders.
At its meeting on 26 and 27 October, the Council intends to continue the debate begun at the last summit in Granada.
It is important to recall all the progress made in this area, in particular the EU Action Plan for the Central Mediterranean, presented by the European Commission on 21 November 2022, the Action Plan for the Western Balkan route, presented on 5 December 2022, the EU Action Plan for the Western Mediterranean and Atlantic migration routes, presented on 6 June 2023, and the EU Action Plan for the Eastern Mediterranean, presented on 18 October 2023.
The Memorandum of Understanding on a strategic and comprehensive partnership between the European Union and Tunisia, signed on 16 July 2023, and the 10-point action plan presented by President von der Leyen during her visit to the island of Lampedusa on 17 September 2023, are also crucial.
The October Council will therefore be a unique opportunity to define the final points of the plan to eradicate illegal migration, while continuing to put in place more and more concrete and effective law enforcement measures capable of defending the EU’s external borders and thus security and order within the territories of the Member States.
EU external relations
Finally, the difficult situation in the Sahel and the Balkans cannot be overlooked.
There is clear concern about the security situation in northern Kosovo. As early as September, Kosovo and Serbia were urged to de-escalate the tensions as soon as possible in order to avoid serious consequences, since the normalisation of relations is an essential condition for the European path of both sides, which are currently in danger of losing the important progress they have made so far.
Finally, with regard to the Sahel, which is politically very unstable, the European Council intends to work to ensure the stability of the whole region, which is also crucial for the stability and security of the rest of the current geopolitical architecture.
Finally, it is important to reiterate the condemnation of the recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium and to reaffirm that the European Union is united and unwavering in the fight against terrorism, hatred and violent extremism of all kinds