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General Affairs council gears up for upcoming summit with EU leaders, Biden

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The Justus Lipsius building in Brussels where the Council holds meetings (EU AV Service).

The General Affairs council of the EU held a meeting today ahead of the upcoming European Summit and U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to Brussels. The council established an initial agenda for the European Council meeting which includes discussions about how to best help Ukraine, adopt the Strategic Compass framework and address price increases. The Heads of State are also set to talk about reducing Europe’s dependence on foreign producers for gas and oil.

“This [is] indeed a strategic council given the current geopolitical context,” Maroš Šefčovič, VP of the European Commission, said. “We covered all issues related to the Russian war against Ukraine. And, as you know, our response has been resolute, robust and rapid. It is the result of the first-class cooperation and coordination in the EU and beyond.”

As Ukrainians continue to flee into Europe, the European Council will likely ratify the decisions that they made at the informal meeting at Versailles several weeks ago. In their statement, the EU Heads of State condemned the Russian invasion and they emphasized their willingness to adopt further sanctions. The fourth round of EU sanctions is currently in discussions, with the Foreign Affairs council discussing that package yesterday. 

That Foreign Affairs council also saw discussion of the Strategic Compass, an initiative which the European Council is expected to discuss at the summit. The Strategic Compass is a proposal which would help EU countries better coordinate security measures and allocate defense spending more effectively. 

The measures were initially proposed last year, however they come at a time of crisis for the EU. That said, it’s hard for the EU to say whether or not the measures would have helped the ongoing refugee crisis and war approaching the EU’s borders.

As previously mentioned, the European Council and Biden are expected to talk about how to mitigate the impact of sanctions at home. Across the EU and in the United States, gas prices have risen substantially. In Europe, there have been questions about how to avoid the usage of Russian gas, the main supplier of energy to Europe.

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