EU ministers reaffirm solidarity with Ukraine
European Union – Informal meeting of ministers responsible for European affairs - Press statement issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs
Arles, 4 March 2022
Under the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, met with his European counterparts and the Vice-President of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, Maroš Šefčovič, the Vice President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, and the Vice-President for Democracy, Dubravka Šuica. The meeting took place on 3 and 4 March 2022 in Arles. This meeting provided the opportunity to address the situation in Ukraine and mobilization of the European Union, ahead of upcoming meetings of the heads of State and government. It also provided an opportunity to reaffirm everyone’s commitment to the protection of the rule of law, and to examine tools to safeguard it. Lastly, the ministers discussed the priority themes identified by citizens within the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
The European Union and the Ukrainian crisis
All Member States reaffirmed their solidarity with Ukraine and its people against the armed Russian aggression. They sent a very strong message with regard to Russia and called for the strengthening of support measures that were decided for Ukraine. They supported work to bolster the resilience and reduction of the European Union’s strategic dependencies, also with a view to the Informal Summit of heads of State and government on 10 and 11 March. They noted Ukraine’s European aspirations and called for more in-depth discussions, taking into account the immediate need to respond to Ukraine’s most urgent needs.
Protecting and promoting the rule of law in the Union
Member States discussed the tools in place to ensure the protection of the rule of law within the Union They reaffirmed their commitment to the fundamental values of the Union, as defined by the treaties. They again discussed how current tools work and called for consideration of their full potential, continuing impartial and objective dialogue with Member States. They recalled the importance of the financial conditionality mechanism, ensuring the proper use of European funds. Suggestions were also made to supplement the European Union’s toolkit, including with regard to the protection of media freedom and pluralism. The presidency will ensure that guidelines are being followed in this area.
Preparing the conclusion of the Conference on the Future of Europe
The ministers discussed the finalization of the Conference on the Future of Europe’s work and the specific role the Council could play in the process. They reaffirmed their commitment to the Conference continuing to be a citizens’ process, given the unprecedented nature of this consultation at European level and within Member States. They also highlighted the importance of each institution following up on the proposals drawn up by the Conference.
Clément Beaune commended the quality of the discussions and outcomes of this event: “This meeting was an opportunity to discuss the strategic challenges for the future of the Union and our citizens, against the difficult backdrop we are currently facing. We repeated the European Union’s extremely firm position as regards Russia and our condemnation of the armed aggression against Ukraine. In addition to the immediate support we need to provide to Ukraine, we must also reconsider how Ukraine can be better anchored to the European continent, and to discuss together the means in place within the EU and its Member States to reduce our dependence and ensure our sovereignty.
Maroš Šefčovič said: “Our resolute response is the fruit of exemplary cooperation and coordination within the EU and beyond. The Kremlin has completely failed in dividing us. In this same united spirit, we discussed two important strategic issues: Ukraine’s desire to join the European Union and the need to learn from this new crisis to build our own resilience. On the first point, Ukraine has once again proved, more than ever in these trying times, that its heart shares our precious European values. We cannot ignore it. On our own resilience, it is clear that Europe will never be the same again. We are now all determined to be more strategic in our policies and investments, particularly in terms of energy security and European defence.”./.