The ECO section warns that the impacts on the EU Member States will be asymmetric and calls therefore for solidarity and a common European response to mitigate economic and social hardships and ensure fairness to the European citizens and companies.
While the full extent of the fallout from the war in Ukraine and the sanctions introduced as a response to the Russian aggression are hard to estimate, the European economic and financial system will not remain untouched by these developments. Furthermore, as the impacts on the EU Member States will be asymmetric, solidarity and a common European response to mitigate economic and social hardships will be key. Putting the European economy on the track of growth, employment, cohesion and sustained convergence, and bringing prosperity and fairness to the European citizens and companies should remain the highest EU economic policy priority over the next few years.
The INT section estimates that the Ukrainian crisis underlines the need to break down certain obstacles and strengthen the internal market and its functioning. We need to accelerate the development of a strategic autonomy for Europe. Europe needs to confirm its unity and determination and to become a more independent, sovereign power in economic and energy terms. In this context, we need to look for new supply markets in order to get independent from Russia, from China and from the United States. We also need to diversify energy sources used by Member States.
The INT section insists on the fact that we need to offset losses incurred by European enterprises affected by sanctions. We need to protect our enterprises: most enterprises came out fragilised from the pandemic, with decreasing turnover, loss of cash flow, increase of indebtness, and now they are facing supply problems due to war and sanctions.
We also need to maintain jobs and to facilitate refugees' integration on the labour market. In this respect, the Social Economy has a great potential and can help integrate the refugees since this economic model has proven to be very resilient in times of crisis and is known for creating quality jobs with the objective of leaving no one behind.
The TEN Section urges to undertake all diplomatic and humanitarian actions that can support the Ukrainian people in keeping access to essential services, including water and electricity. It expresses concerns about nuclear safety, draws attention to the emergency situation of significant parts of the transport sector and calls for a viable plan to diversify the energy sources and ensure the security and sustainability of energy supply in the EU.
On 10 March 2022 the TEN Section held a Debate on Ukraine war and its implications on TEN Section work. Two speakers took part in the debate:
- Dr. Zsolt Hetesi, Senior Research Fellow, National University of Public Administration of Hungary and expert on energy issues, offered a presentation on the implications of the Ukraine war in the field of energy security and energy prices.
- Mr Serhii Prokopenko, Young Innovation and Entrepreneurship Specialist in Ukraine, consultant, new economy researcher near to Kharkhiv, Ukraine has been witnessing the dramatic situation in the country and gave a testimonial of the attacks that the city has been suffering.
The TEN Section debate highlighted the following key elements:
The TEN Section urges to undertake all diplomatic and humanitarian actions that can support the Ukrainian people in keeping access to essential services, including notably water and electricity. Refugees fleeing to Europe need to be duly supported and all necessary measures must be adopted in view of guaranteeing adequate housing and infrastructures for refugees in the hosting countries.
The occupation of the nuclear power stations is raising concerns about nuclear safety for the local population and Europe as a whole. The TEN section calls for full cooperation with all involved actors and with the International Agency for Atomic Energy to monitor the situation and pre-empt any possible escape of radioactivity.
The situation in Ukraine is impacting on the already pressing energy crisis. To overcome the negative impacts of this crisis on the economies of the Member States, it is necessary to take concrete steps to advance on strategic autonomy reducing energy dependence. Therefore, the TEN calls for a viable plan to diversify the energy sources within the Member States' energy mix.
The security and sustainability of energy supply can be fully achieved in the long term only by boosting the usage of low-carbon or carbon-free energy sources. To ensure a resilient and sustainable future of the EU energy system, the TEN Section advocates to accelerate research investments to develop new clean technologies.
The TEN Section is concerned by the emergency situation of significant parts of the transport sector due to the extremely high fuel and electricity costs caused by high price levels already prior to the start of the war in Ukraine and which have reached unprecedented levels since the beginning of that war, leading to a situation where many companies risk bankruptcy.
The TEN Section therefore calls the Commission to give due attention to the urgent crisis of the transport sector when conceiving the Temporary Crisis Framework mentioned in the communication REPower EU: Joint European Action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy.
The SOC section pledges long term and full support for Ukrainian refugees and expresses appreciation for the solidarity shown by civil society organisations and their unceasing actions since the beginning of the Russian aggression.
It insists that all refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, regardless of their nationality, must receive protection and access to adequate infrastructure and that the needs of vulnerable groups, especially women, children, elderly people and people with disabilities, must be addressed adequately. In many countries civil society has mobilised overnight and is cooperating with the authorities to provide help to Ukrainians who fled the war.
The EU must provide financial support both to Ukraine's neighbouring countries to help them deal with unprecedented flows of refugees and to civil society to ensure it can play its vital role as provider of humanitarian aid and integration measures.
NAT section on the war in Ukraine and the need to provide humanitarian, economic, technical and environmental assistance.
Assistance to Ukraine (economic, technical, humanitarian, energetic, security-related, etc…)
- Governments need to do everything in their power to ensure food supply and food safety to the Ukrainian population, by providing food and clean water in war zones and stepping up social protections to insulate vulnerable people from rising food prices.
- The EESC welcomes that the EU has already activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and created logistical hubs in neighbouring countries to channel aid to Ukraine.
- Civil society organisations, including farmers' associations, across Europe are also mobilising to provide food donation to the Ukrainian population. Food banks are playing an important role in this context.
Possible consequences on the EU of the war and of the measures imposed by the EU in these areas
- The UN Agenda 2030 on sustainable development is first and foremost an agenda of peace and security. Addressing the impacts of the war should not come to the detriment of climate action and sustainability. We need to progress towards its implementation with an ambitious European Green Deal, especially after the latest IPCC report's warnings on the dire consequences of the climate emergency. We cannot postpone the necessary steps to be sustainable and climate-neutral; only exceptional derogations can be granted for a limited time.
- The EU relies heavily on the two countries at war for import of cereals and fertilisers and is a major exporter of poultry and pig meat to Ukraine, while Russia remains the EU’s sixth-largest trade partner. Hence, the conflict will inevitably carry severe consequences for the EU’s agri-food sector. The situation that has already been worrying for farmers in recent months, directly affected by huge price increases in fertilisers, energy and animal feed, will not improve and will need additional support.
- The EESC considers that although the question of food security is not of immediate concern to the EU, the large share of EU imports of cereals, animal feed, and fertilizers coming from Ukraine and Russia must reinforce the EU commitment to deliver on sustainable food systems while guaranteeing the affordability of quality food to everyone.
- The crisis should become an opportunity to reduce the EU dependency from fossil fuels, feedstock and fertiliser input, protect the EU's strategic food assets and ensure a fair, healthy, sustainable and resilient food supply. This dependency is the result of policy failures and inaction in the past years. The EU must now work towards an open strategic autonomy of EU food systems as well as speed up the transition to renewable energies and energy efficiency improvements.
- The EESC considers that the environmental impacts caused by the conflict (bombings, especially in the context of oil/gas leaks, chemical factories or nuclear plants) are of major concern, for both the Ukrainian and EU population. The EU must help to protect and restore environmental damages caused by the war and punish environmental crimes, as they will inevitably have long lasting consequences.
The REX section, held on 9 March, dedicated its afternoon session to a debate on Ukraine with the participation of three Ukrainian members of the EU-Ukraine civil society platform:
- Alexander Shubin, Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine
- Olena Pavlenko, DiXi Group, signatory of the Kyiv Declaration
- Vasyl Andreyev, Construction and Building Materials Industry Workers Union of Ukraine
They put forward four main requests:
- Continuous support and assistance to Ukrainians both in and outside of Ukraine
- Support of Ukraine's EU accession process
- No-fly zone over Ukraine
- Significant decrease of the EU energy dependence on the Russian authoritarian regime
In the debate, which ensued, the Members of the External Relations Section agreed on the importance of concrete actions in the following areas:
1) Support and solidarity with Ukraine and its people
- Organisation of humanitarian aid through members’ organisations in line with the most pressing needs of the Ukrainian people
- Continuous collaboration with the Ukrainian civil society through well-established channels such as the EU-Ukraine civil society platform, and through bilateral contacts to better cater for current necessities of the Ukrainian society
2) Sanctions and further isolation of Russia
- Suspending collaboration with the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation
- Advocating for inactivating membership of Russian CSOs linked to the regime in international networks
- Designing a proposal of a global initiative on disinformation to be put in place to fight the Kremlin's propaganda
3) Strategic autonomy and defence
- Revisiting the Green deal and diversifying the energy sources within the Member States
- Advocating for the implementation of a common and effective defence strategy
- Strengthening the transatlantic alliance
The CCMI on the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine for several strategic industries including defense and microchip production.
Many industry sectors will be severely impacted by the Russian invasion and the sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus. Russia and Ukraine have a significant weight in imports to the EU not only of energy but also of metals, such as nickel, copper and iron and essential raw materials such as neon, palladium, titanium and platinum. These are critical for several strategic industries including defense and microchip production.
CCMI believes that the EU should continue working on the twin objectives of the green and digital transition of its industrial ecosystems. This will reduce the EU’s reliance on energy and raw materials imports, as well as vulnerabilities in the digital space. Furthermore, CCMI believes that the EU should accelerate its efforts for open strategic autonomy. This will enable the EU to be stronger both economically and geopolitically.