Solidarity most important asset of EU: Ursula von der Leyen

Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency (AA)

EU’s main aim ‘diversification away from Russia towards other suppliers’ in terms of oil supply, says EU Commission chief.

The solidarity is the “most important asset” of the EU, the bloc’s Commission chief said in a joint news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in the capital Warsaw.

Ursula von der Leyen said millions of people have fled Ukraine amid the ongoing war which started on Feb. 24, and those people faced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “crimes and aggression.”

“Russia’s war in Ukraine is raging with disastrous consequences,” she said, noting that millions of people have fled the shelling and chaos in the war-torn country.

Von der Leyen thanked the Polish people “from the bottom of heart for the outstanding generosity” for hosting more than 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees “with open arms,” adding that “history will not forget their solidarity.”

“You opened your houses and your hearts, and this is a shining example to the whole world,” she said.

Speaking on the solidarity with the EU member states, von der Leyen said those countries were the most impacted by the shockwaves of the war, “in particular, those, who like Poland, who are the object of the Kremlin’s energy blackmail.”

“Indeed, Russia has been using energy as an instrument of pressure and blackmailing, and we do not accept those blackmailing,” she stressed.

She underlined that EU Commission’s main aim is “diversification away from Russia towards other suppliers” in terms of the oil supply.

Ursula von der Leyen said that OPEC will increase the supply of oil, and it will help the EU get rid of the Russian oil dependency and “move towards other regions of the world to get the necessary oil.”

As the EU Commission has endorsed Poland’s €35 billion ($37.6 billion) recovery and resilience plan under Next Generation EU, she underlined that the plan will contribute to the decarbonization of Poland’s economy while boosting its energy security.

Von der Leyen emphasized that massive investment in renewables — clean energy — is crucial as part of the plan, while a significant portion of Poland’s recovery and resilience plan supports this aim, including the development of renewables, clean mobility, digitalization, and economic and social fabric.

– Investments coupled with reforms

She stressed that under the plan, the investments are coupled with the reforms, adding: “The approval of this plan is linked to clear commitments by Poland on the independence of the judiciary.”

“For the first time in our history, Europeans are financing a recovery plan, like Next Generation EU, of this unprecedented scale,” von der Leyen said, adding that the “money will be dispersed when the reforms and investments are in place.”

“Implementing this plan will contribute to our common goal — a better future for the Polish people, for Poland, and for Europe,” she added.

She said this is the “common European money,” and this money should be spent in line with the EU values and rules.

She highlighted that the EU came up with the “additional flexibility in the EU budget to help the member states to host the refugees,” noting that €744 million have been paid to Poland for “welcoming the refugees.”

The European Commission has given a positive assessment of Poland’s recovery and resilience plan, an important step towards the EU disbursing €23.9 billion in grants and €11.5 billion in loans under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).

This financing will support the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Poland’s recovery and resilience plan.

The Next Generation EU funds are expected to enable Poland to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic and drive the green and digital transitions.

The RRF is the key instrument at the heart of Next Generation EU, which will provide up to €800 billion (at current prices) to support investments and reforms across the EU.


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