European Council: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell upon arrival

(Source: EEAS)

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[We had] good news yesterday. As I told you yesterday morning, we were going to have an agreement and we got it.

Late – as always – but we got it. Now we already have a plan to ban 90% of the oil imports to on the European Union. By the end of this year, we will be buying 90% less. [There are] only some exception for the landlocked countries.

I think it is a reasonable way out of the discussion. You know, this weekend, we have been engaging in long and difficult diplomatic discussions with the Ministers [of Foreign Affairs] and the Ambassadors. And finally, the Leaders arranged the last pending issues.

So, the 6th package has been approved, not only on the oil ban but also on three more important banks [taken] out of SWIFT. It will still put more difficulties to the Russian economy in their exchanges with the outer world.

This is another step further, another show of unity. It takes a long time in Europe to discuss and to agree, because we require unanimity. But I think that the efforts of these last days have been worthwhile.

And today, we will discuss about defence – how to improve the defence capacities of the European Union Member States. Because remember that Defence is a competence of the Member States. The Member States created the European Defence Agency, which I have the honour to chair.

And the purpose is to try to look at how we perform – and certainly, we should be doing more. But we have to do it all together. If every Member State increases its expenditures, each one on their side increasing by X percent what they already have, it will be a big waste of money. Because we will not correct the duplications – the same thing several times -, neither the gaps – something that we do not have, not one of us. We have to increase our military expenditures in a coordinated manner. And it is not going to be easy because the army, the defence capabilities, is the core of the national sovereignty. And to try to pull the army development will require a lot of political skill.

We present this report – I as [Head] of the European Defence Agency and the [European] Commission who has competences on defence industry, putting together the industry and the army in order to make the European Union stronger in the world, also from a military point of view.

What we have learned from the Ukrainian war is that it is not enough trade, it is not enough the rule of law, it is not enough to be a good civil power – we need to be also a military power.

 

Q&A

Q. Experts say that the agreement reached yesterday is not really effective because the crude oil that is transported by sea can easily be sold elsewhere by Russia. How are you sure that the sanctions are actually weakening [Vladimir] Putin?

Certainly, we cannot prevent Russia to sell their oil to someone else. We are not so powerful. But we are the most important client for Russia – they will have to look for another one. And certainly, they will have to decrease their price. The purpose is for the Russians to get less resources, less financial resources to feed the war machine. And this certainly will happen.

Q. Do you see all Member States are contributing to the same level in the oil embargo?

According to their capacities and circumstances, yes.

Q. Is Patriarch Kirill in the sanctions’ list? Can you confirm this?

I think so. A week ago, I would have said “Yes”.

Q. I want to ask about the candidate status of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. What is the perspective of these three countries?

Yes, they were discussions about it, but let the Commission do its work.

Q. When will we see the assessment?

I suppose during the June [European] Council.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-226192

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