EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss Ukraine support, migration

Brussels, Mar 23 (EFE).- EU leaders were meeting in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit that will address the bloc’s continued support for Ukraine and the Global South.

The leaders are also expected to discuss European competitiveness, the single market, trade deals, energy, foreign relations and migration, among other topics.

The summit kicked off with a working lunch with UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, who said upon his arrival that the world was at “a crucial moment.”

“We have a perfect storm in many developing countries, a combination of factors that led to a very dramatic situation” with “more hunger, more poverty, less education, less health services in so many parts of the world, and it is clear that our international financial system is not fit for purpose to deal with such a huge challenge. We very much count on the EU to lead the transformations that are necessary,” Guterres said.

After the working lunch, EU leaders will hold a video conference with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the eighth such meeting since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin welcomed the discussions about Ukraine and “especially food security” with Guterres, saying “we need the international support, not only from the EU, our partners, but also international broad support from everyone (…) especially the support that the Global South can show in this respect.”

“The war in Ukraine is not only concerning Ukraine – it concerns the whole rules-based international order. If we don’t send a clear signal that these actions by Russia are unacceptable, then we will also lose the international rules-based order. We need to be very strong behind our values (…) and make sure that aggression doesn’t pay,” she said.

EU leaders are expected to endorse an agreement reached on Monday by their foreign ministers to invest 2 billion euros ($2.18bn) in deliveries of artillery weapons to Ukraine.

The heads of government will also have the opportunity to discuss Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow, where he met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and presented Beijing’s plan for bringing peace to Ukraine.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz said the EU is acting in “unity, togetherness and solidarity,” which he said “Putin never considered – that our support for Ukraine would be so strong and enduring.”

After the debates on Ukraine, the leaders will continue discussions on European competitiveness that they opened at their last meeting after the Commission presented concrete proposals to boost Europe’s clean technology industry and improve the supply of critical raw materials.

The migration crisis will also be discussed at the summit, with Sweden – which currently holds the rotating EU Council presidency – and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen due to present a report on the situation.

The Italian prime minister, the right-wing Giorgia Meloni who has made tackling irregular migration in the Mediterranean a policy priority, said it was “excellent news” that the issue was being treated as a priority, which would have been “unthinkable a few months ago,” she said. EFE


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