Today’s European Council bears a special importance, as we will unanimously confirm granting the state of candidate country to Ukraine and Moldova. This is a very important decision made by the European Union as an answer to Russia’s blatant invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine has the right to claim its integration into the European family and the decision to grant it candidate country status sends a clear message on behalf of the European Union, not just a message of support towards Ukraine in the midst of this difficult circumstance, but also a message that we open a door to the Ukrainian people so that they can vindicate their integration into a united Europe.
We will also have the opportunity to discuss a series of other issues of geopolitical interest. I will inform the European Council about the developments in eastern Mediterranean. Athens is fully expressed by the draft Conclusions, which clearly urges Turkey to stop questioning the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of European Union countries and return to a process of de-escalation, with full respect to the International Law. I really hope that Turkey will listen to these exhortations this time, because this is the only way to ease the tension, which has been created in the past two months in the eastern Mediterranean, exclusively due to our neighbor.
Moreover, we will have the opportunity tomorrow, in the context of the Euro Summit, to discuss the developments on the economic front. European economies face the spectrum of high prices and inflation. There is limited scope within our budget to deal with this crisis.
In our country, we have initiated a very important National Plan to support households and businesses, which is demonstrated in a variety of forms. From the government’s side, there are presently three initiatives, which are already up and running: the Fuel Pass, the Power Pass, but also the initiative for the replacement of energy consuming air conditioners.
All these initiatives, in combination with a tax reduction policy which has been initiated by the government, provide a framework in order to help households and businesses combat high prices that eat away at their disposable income.
But because this problem is a European problem. Because the underlying cause of this problem lies in the particularly high prices of natural gas that impact to inflate the prices of electricity, I will reinstate – along with the Italian Prime Minister, the more than urgent issue to launch bold initiatives at the European level, such as imposing a ceiling on the wholesale price of natural gas.
This is an issue that we have been discussing for a long time, but unfortunately so far the necessary action has not been taken. I hope that currently all members of the European Council acknowledge that a coordinated European reaction is required, one that can support national budgets, so that we can limit, as much as we can, the negative consequences of high prices in our households and businesses.