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EU summit

EU compass off on jobs and economy; but unity on Russia strategy


Commenting on the outcome of the EU summit of heads of state and government, Greens/EFA co-presidents Rebecca Harms and Philippe Lamberts said:

"While this summit did not deliver any big decisions, at least the EU emerges unified in terms of foreign policy. Economic sanctions against Russia will be maintained. It is correct to continue to continue to push for an assertive diplomacy towards Russia and not be sucked into Putin's military provocation. The EU must do all it can to ensure the Russian government respects the Minsk Protocol, as this provides the key to a peaceful solution in the Donbass region of Ukraine.

"A humanitarian catastrophe must be avoided in the east of Ukraine. The EU and the Ukrainian government must work together to support the people there through the hard winter months. The Russian government and the separatist leaders must allow the Red Cross and other international organisations to do their work. The EU must also help and push Ukraine to implement reforms and fight corruption. Financial assistance must depend on these reforms.

"The EU needs a convincing plan against unemployment and recession, and Juncker's investment plan could be a welcome step to this end. However, we remain both unconvinced by the fund's structure and by the list of projects proposed by EU member states for support, which are backward-looking and follow narrow national interests. To be worthwhile, these common investments must promote the modernisation of the European economy: transforming the energy sector, with investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as the refitting of the European grid, together with an ambitious programme to stimulate the digital economy. Commission president Juncker must now work with EU governments until June to shift the compass of this plan towards the sustainable transformation of the economy.

"It is also unsettling that the EU Commission and governments want to increase the tempo of the controversial EU-US TTIP negotiations. The myth that this agreement will be some silver bullet for Europe's economic ails continues to be peddled with gusto. Instead, it is a putsch on social, health and environmental standards, which is the opposite of what Europe and its public needs."