EU – G7 can make a real difference

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President of the European Council, Charles Michel

-Remarks by President Charles Michel before the G7 summit in Schloss Elmau, Germany

By Charles Michel

I would like to focus on five key areas in which the EU and the G7 can make and, I hope, will make a real difference, namely: Ukraine, food security, energy, climate and health.

Our G7 discussions will focus on the situation in Ukraine. Russia’s war against Ukraine has put the world at risk, dramatically impacting food and energy supplies, as well as prices and inflation. From day one, we have responded with unwavering unity and have adopted a 2-track approach involving support for Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions on Russia. The EU will continue to provide robust financial, humanitarian and political support to Ukraine and has also mobilised 2 billion euros to provide military equipment.

Ukraine needs more and we are committed to providing more. This comprises more military support, more financial means and more political support. We are also committed to supporting Ukraine’s reconstruction.

As regards sanctions, the EU has imposed six packages of hard-hitting sanctions against Russia to curb Russia’s ability to wage war. The most recent package, imposed a few weeks ago, will ban 90 percent of Russian oil imported into the EU by the end of this year.

This war is also reshaping the European Union. Just a few days ago, at our latest European Council meeting, we agreed to give Ukraine and Moldova candidate status. And we are ready to grant candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to Georgia, once reforms have been addressed.

This is a historic moment for Ukraine. And for the future of Europe.

The EU and the G7 share the same goals: bringing Russia’s war machine to a halt, while protecting our economies and those of our partners. The EU will stand by the people of Ukraine for the long haul and will help defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Our aim is to strongly defend our common democratic values.

Our discussions here will also focus on food security, which is a growing global concern. The Kremlin is using food as a silent weapon of war and we must vigorously counter Russia’s propaganda and actions in the area of food and fertilizer prices. Russia’s dangerous policies are responsible for the global food crisis. They are causing huge suffering in the poorest countries and among low-income households. Those policies are resulting in ports being blockaded and the destruction of agricultural infrastructure. They are turning fields of wheat into fields of war. And families … children … are facing the risk of starvation. People need this food now and time is running out.

The EU is therefore working on alternative routes for Ukrainian agricultural products.

We support the efforts of UN secretary-general, António Guterres to re-open maritime routes to help in such a way that this also addresses Ukraine’s security concerns. And we support global initiatives, such as those taken by the Global Alliance for Food Security. The EU’s Global Food Security Response and the FARM initiative are relevant here, too. The EU is currently working to mobilise nearly 600 million euros to support those partners who have been most affected.

Energy security will also feature in our discussions, as energy security is yet another example of the destructive impact of Russia’s war. The war has further destabilised energy markets … and increased prices for families and businesses. At last week’s European Council summit, we decided on a collective response. In the EU, we have decided to phase out our dependence on Russia’s fossil fuels. To do this, we are diversifying energy sources, expanding the use of renewable energy sources and promoting energy efficiency. In this regard and in the longer term, climate neutrality is our guiding compass.

Our discussions will also address the urgent issue of climate change. Tackling climate change is both a challenge and an enormous opportunity. The EU is a global leader on tackling climate change. We are fully committed to the Paris Agreement and to becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. We welcome the idea of a Climate Club proposed by the German G7 presidency. This would serve to support the Paris Agreement, reinforce the work of the UNFCCC and limit carbon leakage.

We also aim to decarbonise industry. So, we are ready to engage on “Just Energy Transition Partnerships” with countries that are prepared to take real action on decarbonising their industry and energy sectors. Our partnership with South Africa, which was launched last year, is a great example of this.

As regards health, we must not forget the lessons learned from the pandemic and we need to be ready for future pandemics. Negotiations on the future “pandemic instrument” are now underway.

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, the G7 was launched to address the world’s greatest challenges. Since our meeting last July, in Cornwall, the world has changed dramatically. We have responded swiftly, safely and effectively. And [today], 49 years after the first G7 meeting, we all have a special responsibility. The world is watching. Let’s take the right decisions, promote our democratic values and defend international law.

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