January 28, 2023

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European leaders discuss additional sanctions and gas price ceilings: "Do not spend exorbitant sums that go straight into Russia's pockets" |  Instagram news VTM

European leaders discuss additional sanctions and gas price ceilings: “Do not spend exorbitant sums that go straight into Russia’s pockets” | Instagram news VTM

For the second day in a row, European leaders gather at the informal European summit in Versailles. In a joint statement issued after the first day, European leaders said they were “determined to increase pressure on Russia and Belarus”. According to Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo (Open Vld), the existing sanctions will be extended further.

Read all about the war in Ukraine in this file

European Heads of State and Government meet Thursday and Friday in Versailles, France. The original intention was to discuss post-coronavirus economic recovery, investment policy, the future of fiscal and debt rules, but this discussion has moved into a completely different context since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The war dominated the agenda on Thursday.

In a joint statement distributed around 3 a.m. after the meeting, EU leaders reiterated their “unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine.” The council demands that Russia immediately withdraw troops and military equipment from Ukraine, but also demands that the country’s nuclear sites be used safely.


He also warned the 27 leaders of further sanctions against Russia and Belarus, from which Russian forces could invade Ukraine. It seems we are determined to increase the pressure even more. We have issued significant sanctions and are preparing to impose more sanctions soon.

“This will relate to the extension of existing sanctions,” Prime Minister de Croo said at the start of the second day of the European summit. For example, the number of sectors already targeted today can be increased, but also financial sanctions, such as the exclusion of a number of banks from the international payment system Swift, de Croo believes.

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Ukraine accession

The summit also discussed the Ukrainian application to join the European Union. There was no agreement on this beforehand. The Council has now asked the European Commission to study the Ukrainian question – as well as from Moldova and Georgia – and give its opinion, “in accordance with the European treaties”. Meanwhile, the statement said, “We are strengthening relations and deepening the partnership to support Ukraine on its European path.”

It is mainly Eastern European countries that support the acceleration of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union. Western European countries, including Belgium, adhere to the standard accession procedure – a procedure that takes years. This explains VTM Nieuws journalist Jelle Frencken. But all leaders agree that there should be a political signal. This can be done, for example, by working more closely with Ukraine, in order to establish a closer relationship. ”

gas and oil

Finally, on Thursday the council also discussed Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas and Russian oil. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has revealed her plans to enable the EU to ban fossil fuels from Russia from 2027. Earlier this week, Vice-President of the Commission, Frans Timmermans, said the EU could dispose of two-thirds of Russian gas within year, Russia currently accounts for 45 percent of European gas imports. It also supplies the country with oil and coal.

Prime Minister de Croo was one of the advocates at Versailles for a temporary wholesale price ceiling on the gas market. This position was first defended ten days ago by Energy Minister Tine van der Straiten at a meeting with her European colleagues. When I came here yesterday and said that the European Commission should intervene with gas prices and impose a cap, there were a lot of questions about that. But during the discussion in the council, I saw that most of the countries had already agreed.”

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We have to make sure that we don’t keep making huge expenditures go straight into Russia’s pockets.

Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo (Open Vld)

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has to come up with proposals within two weeks for intervention in the energy markets. I’ve already made it clear that a temporary price cap is an option. “You can do something like this in a short period of time. We must make sure that we don’t always incur huge expenses that end up in Russia’s pockets.”

De Croo once again expressed his readiness to take measures in his country “in the coming days” to ease the rise in fuel prices. “Price is high everywhere in Europe. Basically, we need to do something to completely tackle the unruly energy markets. Otherwise we will continue to spend money but we will not address the underlying problem.”

One bleak bright spot: Russians want to ‘keep talking’

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