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Report by President Charles Michel to the European Parliament plenary session

Report by President Charles Michel to the European Parliament plenary session (06 July 2022).

The Kremlin’s barbaric war against Ukraine has marked a tectonic shift on our continent and created a new geopolitical reality. Last week, with the 27 EU leaders, we took a number of major geopolitical decisions.

First, we decided to recognise the European perspective of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The future of these countries — and their people — lies within the EU.

We also decided to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. This sends a strong message to their people and to our EU citizens. We are also ready to grant candidate status to Georgia once the priorities in the Commission’s opinion have been addressed.

Since the Russian attack, we have responded with unity to support Ukraine and we will stay right by their side for as long as it takes. We will continue to provide military support — we have already done a lot, but Ukraine needs more: so we called for the increase of military support for Ukraine.

We will also continue to support Ukraine financially and we count on the Commission to soon present a proposal to grant Ukraine new Macro-Financial Assistance of up to 9 billion euros in 2022. We are also committed to supporting Ukraine’s reconstruction, together with international partners.

Work will continue on sanctions, to make sure all our sanctions are effectively implemented and to prevent, as much as possible, circumvention. And in close coordination with our G7 partners — we were in Germany, a few days ago — we will consider sanctions on gold. We will also explore measures, such as price caps, to secure energy supply and to try to reduce price surges.

The European Union needs the Western Balkans as much as the Western Balkans need us, and that’s why we met with the Western Balkan leaders, just before our European Council meeting. It was a frank, an open, but also a hard debate with the Western Balkan leaders. But it was also much needed. We decided how to re-energise our engagement with this region and we reaffirmed our strong commitment to revive the enlargement process and to see how to clear the obstacles along the way.

Opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania is a top priority. On the second day of the European Council, the Bulgarian Parliament voted to overturn its veto on North Macedonia beginning EU membership talks. Just yesterday and this morning I was in North Macedonia, for the second time in the last month, to try to explain the Council’s proposal to pave the way to opening EU accession talks with North Macedonia.

I would like to thank the French presidency for their tireless efforts to help bridge the gap between North Macedonia and Bulgaria and for opening the possibility to move forward this process swiftly both for North Macedonia and Albania.

Progress on bilateral and regional disputes is also urgent. Normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia through the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is of key importance. We also had the occasion to reaffirm that we are ready to grant candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Commission will report on the implementation of 14 key priorities set out in its opinion with special attention to a substantial set of reforms.

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