European Council discusses energy prices and rule of law
In its meeting in Brussels on 21 October, the European Council discussed the spike in energy prices, the rule of law situation in the EU, the COVID-19 pandemic and trade policy. The Council also addressed external relations issues, including the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the Eastern Partnership and the ASEM summit. Prime Minister Sanna Marin is representing Finland at the meeting, which will continue on Friday.
The European Council held an extensive discussion on the impact of rising energy prices on citizens and businesses. The European Council invited the Commission and the Council to consider medium and long-term measures to prevent excessive fluctuations in prices. At the same time, it is crucial to strengthen the flexible use of energy in the EU and ensure a green transition. The Energy Council will meet for an extraordinary meeting in Luxembourg on 26 October to explore further measures.
Finland considers it important to phase out fossil fuels in order to avoid future price shocks. At the same time, measures must be taken to increase the proportion of renewable energy and other emission-free energy sources in the energy mix. As prices rise, it is important to take into account the needs of the most vulnerable consumers.
Outside the actual agenda for the meeting, the EU leaders also discussed the situation with regard to the rule of law in the Member States. The discussion raised concerns over questioning the primacy of EU law. In Finland’s view, it is important to continue ongoing efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Europe. Democracy, the rule of law and fundamental and human rights are the foundation for all activities of the EU.
The European Council noted that vaccinations have brought about significant progress in the fight against COVID-19. That said, efforts to further increase vaccination coverage, including by tackling disinformation, are still very much needed. We must also accelerate the production of vaccines so that the EU can fulfil its commitment to global vaccine solidarity. The EU must be better prepared for future crises.
The European Council held a strategic discussion on trade policy objectives. In Finland’s view, the EU must remain open to international trade and investments and must play a leading role in the reform of the World Trade Organization. Trade policy must advance our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
On the topic of external relations, the European Council discussed the preparations for the ASEM Summit on 25 and 26 November and the Eastern Partnership Summit on 15 December. With regard to the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, the EU leaders called for ambitious global measures to combat climate change.
The European Council also noted the preparations for the upcoming COP15 meeting on biological diversity in Kunming, China. The Council emphasised that ambitious measures are needed to halt and reverse biodiversity loss worldwide.
Inquiries: Jari Luoto, State Under-Secretary for European Affairs, tel. +358 50 468 5949, Tuulia Pitkänen, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 295 160 231.