From granting EU candidate status to the associated trio to implementing qualified majority voting, here are the next steps the EU needs to take to counter Russia

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has far-reaching implications for the EU and its Member States. This includes the security of Europe, but it also has political, economic and psychological effects.

Even for younger generations of Europeans who thought war in Europe was just a dark chapter in history, it is now clear that war – and all the suffering that comes with it – is still possible in Europe. in the 21st century. This awareness leads to a significant psychological change, which significantly shapes public opinion. People support the idea of ​​helping Ukraine and influencing Russia to end the war.

Russia’s war in Europe changed the decades-long attitudes of many European countries. For example, Germany has decided to provide significant military aid to Ukraine and to increase its contribution to national defense. Finland and Sweden are candidates for NATO membership. In fact, most EU member states have provided military assistance to Ukraine, and access to EU countries for Ukrainian war refugees has been made as easy as possible.

So far, there has also been considerable consensus among EU countries on sanctions against Russia. So, over the last three months, Europe has changed considerably. But what happens next is even more important.

It is crucial to grant Ukraine EU candidate status. Ditto for Moldova and Georgia. This would give these countries a clear perspective. Only after candidate status has been granted will it be possible to begin genuine membership negotiations

Unfortunately, it seems that Russia’s war against Ukraine will continue for a long time. It means more death, suffering and horror. Europe must prepare for it. We must intensify the pressure on Russia in order to reduce the means available to Russia to continue the war in Ukraine. This includes imposing sanctions on Russian energy exports and intensifying sanctions against the financial sector.

In order for the EU to have a faster and more efficient decision-making process, it makes sense to use qualified majority voting in our foreign policy when dealing with responses to human rights violations and of international law.

In this case, it would no longer be necessary to seek consensus to impose sanctions, because, unfortunately, experience has shown that there are still Member States whose tactics delay and dilute the vital decision-making process.

The EU and its Member States must also continue to provide comprehensive assistance to Ukraine. This includes the supply of arms but also economic and political assistance.

Regarding the latter, it is crucial to grant Ukraine EU candidate status. Ditto for Moldova and Georgia. This would give these countries a clear perspective. It is only after the granting of candidate status that it will be possible to begin genuine membership negotiations.

The EU must also seriously review its relations with third countries which, in one way or another, support Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. This also applies, for example, to voting at the United Nations. Countries that refused to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and, for example, to withdraw Russia from the UN Human Rights Council should not benefit from preferential relations with the EU in terms of trade and access to the EU common market. [Editor’s note: Russia was suspended from the UN Human Rights Council in April, but not all UN members voted for this suspension.]

We must also realize that with the current Russian criminal regime, it will not be possible to restore relations with Russia even when the war in Ukraine ends. Russia must change radically

The EU must quickly change its energy policy and its investments. Finally, the principles of a coherent European energy policy must be implemented. The EU must not be heavily dependent on third countries for its energy supply and energy connections between Member States must be completed.

So far, unfortunately, this has been overlooked. Thus, even after the Russian occupation of Crimea and the 2014 invasion of Ukraine, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was developed, which would have further increased Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. . Hopefully these hard lessons will finally guide Europe in the right direction.

Russia has seriously violated international law and committed war crimes in Ukraine. These actions must not go unpunished. The EU must do everything in its power to bring the criminals to justice. We must also realize that with the current Russian criminal regime, it will not be possible to restore relations with Russia even when the war in Ukraine ends.

Russia must change radically. Otherwise, there is no guarantee that the current horrors will not happen again after some time. Russia must stop imagining that it has the right to determine the future of other countries and peoples. They don’t have that right. Until they understand this and change their behavior significantly, the EU cannot return to normal relations.

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