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

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


For me, this [European] Council is especially important because we are going to sign with President [of Ukraine, Volodymyr] Zelenskyy the security commitments with the European Union.

Some Member States have already done it on their side, but these security commitments cover the military, the financial, and the diplomatic [domains] – and, in particular, it will be the way of channelling the resources coming from Russian frozen assets.

It is good that we could take this money and provide more military support to Ukraine – training their soldiers, developing their air defence industry, and providing more military support.

I think today is a good moment to continue showing our unwavering commitment to support Ukraine.

Then, for sure, there will be the defence side.

The Europeans, we have been underinvesting in defence. Now we have to recover the time that we have lost. We have to think about how we finance a big push to increase our defence capabilities.

It is not going to be easy because neither Member States nor the European Union have enough resources to make a big push. But it is clear that since the euro crisis, the Europeans have been underinvesting in defence.

When the war came, we discovered that our military stocks were below the line, and we had to buy outside the European Union more than 75% of our military [purchases], our military supplies.

This is not affordable. This cannot be [the case] for a geostrategic player.

And then, the situation in the Middle East – a strong concern.

[President of the United States, Joe] Biden’s plan is not being implemented. Neither one side, nor the other has been willing to implement this plan, despite the fact that there was a [UN] Security Council resolution backing this plan.

And now, what do we see? We see that starvation continues, that bombing continues. The humanitarian support is not entering into Gaza. [On Monday], the [Executive] Director of the World Food Programme, Ms Cindy McCain, insisted on the idea that nothing has changed in Gaza – not starvation, bombing, malnutrition. This is something that the international community has to deal with. Yet, this is not the only problem. In the West Bank, the Europeans will have to discuss about how we face [it] in order to stop the violence in the West Bank.

And then, the situation at the Lebanese border. We have to stop the spillover of the war to the whole region.


Q: On the Middle East, there is very strong language in the Council Conclusions. Is this a paradigm shift? Do you think that we will soon see restrictive measures against Israel?

No, this is not on the agenda. But on the agenda, we have the Association Council [with Israel]. The Association Council cannot be a ‘business as usual’ Council, because the things that are happening are not business as usual. So, this will be the occasion for the Member States to discuss with the Israeli counterparts about what is going on in Gaza, what is going on in the Middle East and look at the most important pressing issues: to stop the military actions, to provide humanitarian support and to start thinking on a political solution.

Q: My family is in north Gaza. What can I tell them? No food, no water, no electricity. What can I tell them?

Tell them that the European Union is doing everything they can in order to provide them with water and food. We are the biggest donor, and we are the one who is pushing more for Israel to open the border and allow humanitarian support to come. And we are very much aware of what they are suffering [from], and that is why we are increasing our capacity and our work in order to stop this dramatic carnage.

Q: At the minimum, the food.

At minimum, the food – I know, that is what Cindy McCain was saying. Nothing has changed in Gaza, the humanitarian support is still not entering. Israelis continue impeding humanitarian support and continue starving people. That is why the European Union today has strong language about it.

Thank you.

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