European Union leaders concluded their final summit in 2022. They reached an agreement to finance Ukraine with 18 billion euro next year. Russia will also be sanctioned. The EU is prepared to limit natural gas prices to support its industry and impose more sanctions.
Last-minute objections were raised by Poland to the global minimum corporate tax. This unblocked a set of related agreements, which includes the loan to Ukraine. A war has been raging since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Moscow calls it a “special military operations”.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, predicted that months ahead would prove to be even more difficult than the war on his homeland. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz offered additional aid.
After talks with the 27 EU national leaders, Scholz stated that “our joint determination to support Ukraine financially, militarily, and in the humanitarian zone for as long as possible remains unbroken.”
In a written statement, the U.S. Treasury secretary applauded global minimum tax agreements.
Yellen stated that “this historic agreement helps level out the playing field for U.S. businesses while protecting U.S. employees.”
This summit caps a turbulent year that saw EU members close their ranks in support of Ukraine, but struggle with Moscow to reach an agreement on how much pressure they should apply.
However, EU leaders agreed on Thursday to add a ninth set of sanctions to Moscow, to include blacklisting nearly 200 people, and banning investment in Russia’s mining sector.
After warnings from Poland and Lithuania that any proposed exemptions to food security could benefit Russian fertilizer oligarchs, the unanimity required for this decision was reached.
After much dispute throughout the year the EU seemed to finally be coming to an agreement on how to limit gas prices. Leaders gave their ministers Monday the task to finalize that work. Scholz was the leader of opposition to market interventions and expected that there would be a final agreement.
As part of energy-saving measures, heating was reduced in EU buildings. Some leaders were wrapped up in large shawls while they discussed the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act which provides $430 billion in tax incentives for green energy.
Alexander De Croo, the Belgian Prime Minister, stated that the EU was at risk of deindustrialization as oil prices rose on the backs of war in Ukraine. European companies were also facing the danger of being subverted by the U.S.
The EU’s poorer countries need a coordinated response. They warned Germany and other rich member states against supporting their industry without sharing solidarity with the rest.
Today, we can see too many countries trying to set up their own schemes. De Croo said that it looks like a game for the deepest pockets.
Summit charged EU Commission to make specific proposals for early next year in order to support the EU’s leading-edge industries, including AI and biotech. It also asked them not only keep competition within the bloc’s beloved single market of 450 millions consumers but also preserve it’s competitiveness.
In addition to granting Bosnia and Herzegovina official EU candidate status, the summit saw the leaders agree to meet in February to discuss increasing immigration to EU.
However, the event was overshadowed when a scandal of corruption rocked the European Parliament.
Roberta Metsola, chief of European Parliament, said that the assembly was not up for sale after Eva Kaili (a Greek member) was charged by Belgian prosecutors.
She stated that the House would conduct an extensive review of its dealings with third-country countries, and strengthen whistleblower protections.
Belgian police claimed that it took nearly 1.5 million euros worth of cash in raids on the case and published photos showing the loot, which included a black suitcase stuffed with 50- and 100-euro notes. Qatari and Kaili denied any wrongdoing.