Leaders from nearly 50 European countries will try to show unity in support of Ukraine when they gather in Granada, Spain, even as concerns are mounting over the reliability of US funding and a new potential ally of Moscow on the continent.
(Bloomberg) — Leaders from nearly 50 European countries will try to show unity in support of Ukraine when they gather in Granada, Spain, even as concerns are mounting over the reliability of US funding and a new potential ally of Moscow on the continent.
The omission of funding for Ukraine in a spending bill passed by Congress to avoid a US government shutdown comes at a critical stage for Kyiv’s counter-offensive. European backing for Ukraine faces a new challenge after Robert Fico, a candidate sympathetic to Russia, won Slovakia’s election Saturday.
Topics at the meeting of the European Political Community on Thursday range from multilateralism to energy and AI. Among those present will be British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose country will host next year’s forum.
EU leaders will then hold an informal summit in Granada on Friday, with contentious issues from how to prepare for new members to sharing the burden of migrant arrivals.
Whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will join the discussions has yet to be confirmed. Kyiv wants to open talks with the EU by the end of the year and hopes for a positive assessment of its reforms by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, as soon as next month.
Here are the main issues to watch:
Kyiv’s bid to join the EU has revived the bloc’s enlargement process, forcing member states to discuss how accommodate as much as nine new members, including Ukraine, Moldova and Western Balkan countries. Challenges include working out shared priorities, common funding and improving the decision-making process in a larger and more diverse club.
There’s no existing fast-track path to speed up the arduous membership criteria, which can normally last more than a decade. European Council President Charles Michel has proposed the bloc should be ready for enlargement by 2030.
EU leaders will discuss how to drive the process while deepening cooperation between existing members on issues such as the economy or defense. The bloc considers enlargement as a geopolitical tool to strengthen its response to challenges posed by Russia and China.
EU Commission Prepares to Recommend Ukraine Membership Talks
EU leaders are set to pledge to boost the bloc’s defense readiness, including with more investments in the area’s arms industry. The vow comes as Europe has been slow to ramp up weapons production — both to aid Ukraine but also to refill members’ own stocks.
While Europe is on track to double its production of artillery ammunition, it is still lagging behind in its aim to send Ukraine at least one million badly-needed artillery rounds by March.
Military support for Ukraine is becoming more pressing as allies brace for a long war. But there are increasing signs that aid could be harder to come by, including in the US, where Congress passed a spending bill without aid to Ukraine to avoid a government shutdown.
EU leaders will discuss the divisive issue of migration after Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, proposed a 10-point action plan last month including support for managing the inflow and transfer of migrants, as well as stopping smugglers by bolstering air and sea surveillance.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni requested her fellow-leaders tackle the topic with her country on track for receiving the biggest number of migrants since 2016 this year. Disagreements between Italy and Germany blocked an agreement last week on how to deal with a massive influx of migrants in a crisis.
–With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss.
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