EU: PM Kaja Kallas addresses MEPs

Strasbourg 09.03.2022 MEPs joined Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas in calling for more EU defence, reduced energy dependence and solidarity with Ukraine in a plenary debate on 9 March.

Opening the debate, Parliament President Roberta Metsola said: “We need to re-assess the European Union’s role in this new world. We need to boost our investment in defence and innovative technologies. This is the time for us to take decisive steps to ensure the security of all Europeans. The time to build a real security and defence union and reduce our dependencies on the Kremlin.”

In the wake of the invasion of Ukraine and as prime minister of a country sharing a nearly 300km border with Russia, Kallas called for increased EU defence, decreased energy dependence and emphasised the importance of the Nato alliance. She also talked about the importance of the future of Ukraine: “It is in our interest that Ukraine becomes more stable, more prosperous and is solidly founded on the rule of law. (…) But it’s not only in our interest to give Ukraine a membership perspective, it is also our moral duty to do so. Ukraine is not fighting for Ukraine, it’s also fighting for Europe.”

She addressed Russian citizens directly, assuring them that EU is not acting against them and the measures are intended to isolate President Vladimir Putin and his government. “We continue to hope for a stable and democratic Russia that is respectful of its neighbours and is governed by a rule of law.”

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, said that we have entered a new era and that the consequences of this war would be shaping European policies for years and decades to come. “Defending our liberal values will not be possible unless there is a political commitment and citizens willing to pay a price for this. It would be empty words, unless we are willing to act, to be more united, to be more coordinated and to pay the inevitable price that any kind of structural change will bring.”

Arnaud Danjean (EPP, France) called on EU countries to act in unison: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is the start of a new era and Europe has to draw the necessary conclusions. What does this mean in practice? (…) We have instruments at our disposal that just need to be used. What we have lacked are not tools and instruments. No, what we’ve lacked is unanimous, political will from our member states.”

Nathalie Loiseau (Renew Europe, France) said that the action taken so far is insufficient. “We see that this is not enough. We need to do more to defend the Ukrainian people and to defend ourselves. We need to use less Russian oil and gas. We need to provide more weapons to Ukraine. (…) We need to protect ourselves by making significant efforts to improve our defence spending.”

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