In the last EU Council, discussed different issues having one common thread: security

Legal - August 27, 2023

The EU Council took place on 29 and 30 June. In this occasion, the 27 European leaders met and discussed in order to reach conclusions on several key issues. 

The conclusions mainly concerned: Ukraine, the economy, security and defence, China, external relations and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Regarding Ukraine, the Council reiterated its strong condemnation of the war resulting from Russian aggression and confirmed that it will support Ukraine as long as necessary in every possible way, providing financial, economic, humanitarian, military and diplomatic aid.

Specifically, the Eu Council agreed to add € 3.5 billion euros for the European Peace Facility, as on last 20th June the Commission advanced the need for a revision of the European budget to establish a new Ukraine Facility with a fund of € 50 billion. The EU’s goal remains to continue to fight in order to ensure Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. 

Regarding the economic issue, the European Council emphasised the need to strengthen European economic resilience and security, while defending the Union’s interests and preserving an open economic model. 

It was also addressed he topic of security and defence. The importance of making this sector more innovative, competitive and resilient was reiterated. Furthermore, it was confirmed that we must start thinking about a long-term strategy that is able to provide better defence for the European Union. In particular, the willingness to strengthen the so-called EDIRPA, (European defence industry reinforcement through common procurement act), was confirmed, and work on all lines of action for the joint delivery and procurement of ammunition and missiles, in particular on the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP), should be taken forward. The topic of cyber defence was also addressed. The European Council appreciated the work on EU cyber defence and cyber security policy, with the aim of strengthening the ability to prevent and deter cyber-attacks and to respond to them effectively.

Relations with China are an issue on which the ECR party had spoken out in recent weeks, emphasising the need to reverse much of the relocation that has already taken place and to stop any plans for further relocation. The European Council in its conclusions also discussed this issue, confirming that the EU and China are important economic and trade partners for each other. It was reaffirmed that the relationship between these two actors should be based on principles of respect for national order, balance and reciprocity, as the EU and China are simultaneously systemic partners, competitors and rivals.

Another central element in relations with China concerns respect for human rights. On this issue the European Council reiterated that the Chinese power, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has a special responsibility to defend the rules-based international order. For this reason, the European Council called on China to exert pressure on Russia to end its war of aggression and withdraw its troops from Ukraine immediately, completely and unconditionally. 

In addition, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. With this in mind, the Council welcomed the resumption of the human rights dialogue with China. However, it reiterated some concerns regarding, in particular, forced labour, minorities, the situation in Tibet and the fulfilment of China’s previous commitments in relation to Hong Kong.

In the European Council conclusions, a key chapter was dedicated to external relations. The importance of jointly addressing global climate and environmental crises, growing inequalities, the opportunities offered by digital transformation and the need to diversify supply chains, as well as unprecedented threats to global security and the rules-based order were discussed.

In this view, the migration issue was central. The Council discussed in particular the Pact on Immigration, which promotes the reallocation of asylum-seeking migrants between EU states, providing for a financial contribution of €20,000 per migrant by states that refuse such reallocation on their territory. Immigration is an element that can threaten the social security of member states, and it is therefore necessary to manage it collectively, redistributing the costs and responsibilities, which until now have been left on the shoulders of the countries most exposed to the arrival of migratory flows. Despite the non-sharing by Poland and Hungary, an important step forward has been taken, as immigration is now considered no longer a problem of individual nation states, but a common issue that must be managed at European level.

The European Council also paid special attention to relations with the Mediterranean countries. In this context, what is being done in Tunisia, following the mission involving the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Layen, the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, is considered a real model to be taken as an example. The aim is to achieve a mutually beneficial comprehensive partnership with Tunisia, based on the pillars of economic development, investment and trade, transition to green energy, migration and people-to-people contacts, and supports the resumption of political dialogue in the context of the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement. It is crucial that this is achieved not only in Tunisia, but that we work to strengthen and develop strategic partnerships between the EU and all other partners in the region.
In this perspective, the EU Council’s willingness to strengthen the African Union’s presence in international fora, in particular the G20, is also crucial.

The European leaders also condemned the events taking place in Kosovo. They called for an immediate de-escalation of the situation. Indeed, the continuation of tensions could only have a negative impact on the entire area, which has historically suffered from internal conflicts and tensions. It is therefore essential to continue the dialogue facilitated by the EU under the leadership of the High Representative and the rapid implementation of the agreement on the path towards normalisation of the country.

Finally, the situation in the eastern Mediterranean was also discussed. On the basis of previous conclusions, the European Council confirmed its commitment to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, within the UN framework, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded and the acquis. The EU calls for the early resumption of negotiations and is ready to play an active role in support of all stages of the UN-led process, with all appropriate means at its disposal.

Also, on EU-Turkey relations, the Council reaffirmed its willingness to identify the most appropriate instruments and options to proceed with a strategic and forward-looking dialogue with Ankara.

In addition to this, the issue of artificial intelligence was also addressed. In particular, the EU Council emphasised the importance of understanding the opportunities of AI and, above all, of assessing the risks associated with it and dealing with them appropriately as of now. It is therefore central to regulate the subject, in order to have a common legislation that can limit any negative consequences that could undermine our society.

In the final part of the conclusions, the European Council recognised the importance of strengthening resilience in strategic areas, in order to limit the most serious consequences of natural or man-made disasters, many of which are exacerbated by climate change and the changing security landscape in Europe and worldwide.

The European Council on 29 and 30 June discussed many different subjects, but they are all united by one common thread: security.
In fact, security does not only have to do with geopolitical or military issues, but also has components related to the economy, the environment, and society. The European Union was created to guarantee security for its members, although this has often been forgotten in recent years. With the last EU Council, a first step was taken to remind us that there are some challenges that no member state can tackle alone, but which require a common and joint effort. The hope is that this first step can only be the beginning for creating a new European Union, more united and more focused to the security and defence of its external borders.