(Source: Council of the EU and European Council)
It is in these darkest of hours, in these darkest of moments, that our thoughts are with Ukraine and with the Ukrainian people as they face this unprovoked attack and they fear for their lives. We will do all that we can, all that is necessary to support them in these tragic circumstances. This is not only an attack on Ukraine, it is an attack on the values of a free and democratic world, values that are at the core of the European Union. Therefore the Union stands strongly united in protecting our common values, our freedoms and the rule of law.
Our leaders last night took decisive and collective action to hold Russia accountable. This is one further step in our response. There is more to come. But our first priority now is to implement those sanctions and finance ministers will be acting urgently to do this.
We know there will be consequences for standing up for our European values and freedoms. We know there will be economic costs. But it is these very values and freedoms that are fundamental to the success of our Union and fundamental to our societies and to our economies. These costs will emerge over the coming weeks and months. The impact will be different for different member states.
But our discussion here today led by Bruno, illustrated that we will maintain the unity of purpose that we have demonstrated over the past two years. While we have started to consider the consequences of the last few days’ events, we do so with an economy that is already strong and resilient thanks to the policy decisions that we have taken in recent years.
Only in December, the Eurogroup collectively agreed to maintain a moderately supportive budgetary stance for our economies, complementing the monetary policy of our central bank to give our governments the ability to respond to the challenges of then, and now the challenges of today. In three weeks’ time, the Eurogroup will again review this issue. We will discuss the coordination of our budgetary policies. This discussion will come at the right time – between now and then it will allow us to revisit, to review our strategies, to ensure that we can support our economies and our citizens at this moment of greatest challenge. But we will do this with an economy that due to its recovery, will allow us to respond to this test. The Eurogroup and the euro area is united with our institutions as we respond to this grave test.
Before I hand over to the president of the European Central Bank, one further matter that it’s important from a Eurogroup discussion today is that our Greek Finance Minister colleague, Minister Staikouras updated us on the early repayment of IMF and Greek Loan Facility loans. A very important achievement by him and his government. A further statement will issue at that later.