EU leaders to debate economy woes as Russia squeezes gas supplies


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders will activate Friday from celebration over Ukraine’s begin on the street to membership of their bloc to consternation over Russia’s squeeze on their gas supplies, hovering costs and sputtering economies.

On the second day of a summit in Brussels, the leaders of the 27 nations will place the blame for a spike in inflation and sagging progress throughout the globe squarely on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that started 4 months in the past to the day.

They can even name on the EU’s govt to provide you with power provide options in response to Moscow’s “weaponisation” of gas imports now {that a} dozen European nations have been thumped by cuts in important supplies from Russia.

“We have to modify to the brand new actuality,” mentioned one EU official forward of the talks. “It is just a matter of time earlier than the Russians shut down all gas shipments.”

The first day of the summit ended on a triumphant observe as the EU formally accepted Ukraine as a candidate to be part of the bloc, a gesture of solidarity with the war-buffeted nation and a message to Moscow that it intends to attain deep into the previous Soviet Union as it expands additional.

However, Kyiv’s journey to membership will take a few years and the EU leaders’ most speedy issues are the extreme financial strains that, approaching the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, threat widespread discontent in their very own nations.

In a draft assertion seen by Reuters, the leaders will stress that their economies stay essentially sturdy and pledge to keep united in response to the challenges posed by the struggle in Ukraine.

The bloc responded with uncharacteristic velocity and unity after the launch of the struggle in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “particular navy operation”, imposing a slew of sanctions on Russia regardless that some – such as an embargo on oil imports later this 12 months – can have repercussions for his or her economies.

However, some member states have resisted deeper sanctions, significantly Hungary, whose prime minister, Viktor Orban, cultivates nearer ties with the Kremlin than others within the bloc.

On Thursday, a high aide to Orban instructed Reuters that there have to be no additional EU sanctions on Russia.

Inflation within the 19 nations sharing the euro foreign money has shot to all-time highs above 8% and the EU’s govt, the European Commission, has slashed its financial progress forecast to 2.7% this 12 months from 4% anticipated earlier than the invasion.

The Commission mentioned on Thursday {that a} dozen EU nations had been affected by cuts to gas provide from Russia.

While they’ve thus far been in a position to fill the shortfall, they had been getting ready in case of additional provide cuts by Moscow, the primary gas provider to Europe.

European officers consider the Russian cuts are in retaliation for the EU’s assist for Ukraine. Moscow has denied the squeeze in gas deliveries to Europe is premeditated.

In their assertion, the leaders will request the Commission search to safe power provide at reasonably priced costs to deal with “the weaponisation of gas by Russia”.

Last month they requested the Commission to discover, in cooperation with different nations, methods to deliver hovering power costs beneath management, together with by import value caps.

The Commission has thus far not produced any proposals as the problem is extremely complicated and divisive, with some nations uncomfortable imposing value caps they concern may disrupt the market and make a foul scenario worse.

(Editing by John Chalmers and Sam Holmes)

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