/ Talking Europe
Issued on: 18/03/2022 – 19:10Modified: 18/03/2022 – 19:15
TALKING EUROPE © FRANCE 24
Caroline DE CAMARET
“It cannot be that an autocrat attacks a sovereign country which has the right to the integrity of its territory.” That’s the firm response directed at Russia from the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Speaking exclusively to FRANCE 24 about the war in Ukraine, the EU leader added that “democracy is standing up against autocracy and therefore we stand as one”.
Faced with the unprecedented crisis at the borders of the European Union that has sent shockwaves across the bloc, Ursula von der Leyen outlined the EU’s response to the war in Ukraine. This means continuing to inflict economic stress on Russia, partly through the latest sanctions outlined this week, which have had “a huge effect on Russia’s economy right now, but also a huge effect over time on the economy so it will have a lasting effect. There is a price for President Putin to pay and this is our strength in the European Union,” the European Commission president told FRANCE 24.
On top of that, von der Leyen laid out the measures that the EU wants to take to mitigate the bloc’s dependence on Russia, especially when it comes to fossil fuel. The European Commission chief called on Europeans to reduce their energy consumption, for EU states to increase renewable energy usage, and, in the shorter term, to find alternatives to Russian gas, notably turning their attention to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG): “If Russia were to cut us off from the gas today we would be able to go through this winter. So we have already a lot of LNG gas.”
As for sending a message to Ukraine regarding its joining the European Union – a key demand of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – von der Leyen said European Union member states are unanimous: “Ukraine is part of our European family, and we are forging the path forward to enlargement […] We are in an extraordinary situation. We need a tailored solution and we need to be creative.” The EU Commission president added that the accession process has already been accelerated, with the Commission set to issue its “Opinion” ruling in the coming months, rather than taking years, as has been the case in the past.
Produced by Isabelle Romero, Georgina Robertson, Sophie Samaille and Perrine Desplats
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