Press Releases European Council: Remarks by President Charles Michel following his meeting with Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson

European Council: Remarks by President Charles Michel following his meeting with Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson

Thank you, Prime Minister Kristersson, for your warm welcome. It’s a great pleasure to be back in Stockholm. I would like first to congratulate you on the launch of Sweden’s third Presidency of the EU Council. Like you said, you are taking the reins at a pivotal time for Europe.

Sweden’s priorities clearly reflect our common goals.

First, helping to strengthen Europe’s security. Russia’s war against Ukraine is the gravest threat to Europe and the world since World War II.

Second, reinforcing Europe’s competitiveness. A strong and competitive EU is key to our economic future and our standing in the world.

Third, driving forward Europe’s green and energy transition. The EU is a global leader in climate action and we want to continue to lead. Last year we took important measures to ensure our energy security and bring prices down. Your work to speed up the electrification of the EU and on a new Batteries Regulation will play an important role.

At our European Council meeting in February we will focus on the economy because we need to send a strong message that we will act to safeguard our industrial base. It is crucial that the EU remains an attractive place to invest, innovate and produce. The energy crisis, inflation and increased global competition are impacting on our economies. Last December we tasked the Commission with making proposals by the end of January, and our European Council meeting in February will be the time to look into four aspects.

1/ We have to look into how the rules for state aid apply and how we can adapt them to the new geopolitical challenges. Today, indeed, we celebrate 30 years of the single market; that’s a great achievement. We all want to preserve the level playing field, but we also need the single market to be future-proof.
2/ Another aspect is the need for flexibility in the use of existing EU funds.
3/ Solidarity: not all member states have equal financial means. So whatever changes we make need to be in full solidarity.
4/ Finally, in February we need to discuss the idea of a European Union sovereign fund investing in strategic areas, even if the goal is more of a medium-term or longer-term goal.

I sincerely believe we must act quickly to defend our interests and protect our businesses. This is also an opportunity to reinforce our European competitiveness for the future.

The economic package is a first important topic for the European Council, but there will be another difficult and important topic on the agenda: migration. We will discuss the concrete issues and work on areas where we can make concrete progress. We must find an effective and responsible approach. We will focus on the external dimension of migration, on the protection of external borders and on the return policy.

With Prime Minister Kristersson, we also talked about the EU-Ukraine relationship and the war launched by Russia against Ukraine. Ukraine has anchored its future to the EU, and the EU has anchored its full support to the people of Ukraine. As we approach one year of war, we are more steadfast and more united than ever. We will continue to provide strong military, financial, diplomatic and political support to Ukraine and to the Ukrainian people. Together, the EU and its member states have contributed nearly €50 billion. The next meeting we will have with the Ukrainian authorities will also send a positive message of the progress Ukraine is making on its path towards Europe.

Dear Prime Minister, dear Ulf, I know we can count on your leadership and on the people of Sweden, and you can count on the full support of the EU. Thank you for our good cooperation.

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