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Need for European autonomy highlighted

The need for Europe’s long-term strategic autonomy and an increase in military spending after the war in Ukraine was stressed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the quadripartite meeting held in Rome with premiers Mario Draghi of Italy, Pedro Sanchez of Spain and Antonio Costa of Portugal.

Mitsotakis, who participated online as he is still recovering from the coronavirus, also emphasized that these issues must be addressed on a pan-European level, as “it is clear that they will burden our budgets.”

The four prime ministers agreed that a common European response is needed to tackle the current energy crisis, with Mitsotakis emphasizing that this is a “top issue for the economy and social cohesion of our peoples.”

He also referred to “actions that will protect our societies, as no country can face this crisis on its own.”

“In the first phase, we propose harmonized European intervention policies against speculators, in order to restore the balance between the prices of electricity and gas. When the markets become the target of speculators, then European intervention is required,” he noted, sticking to his rhetoric about the need to combat profiteering.

“Decisions must be taken at the next European council and a united front must be formed immediately,” he stressed. Otherwise, he said, there will be a minefield in the foundations of the EU, and this “crisis may rekindle the nightmare of populism.”

Greece, he stated, has paid a heavy price due to populism and knows what that means. The other leaders echoed similar sentiments.

Speaking after the meeting, Draghi said that “the European Union has reacted with great determination and unity to the attack on Ukraine,” and that member-states now “must show the same conviction and coherence in protecting their economies from consequences of the war and, above all, from the increase in the price of energy.”

“We must act immediately and together. We want to bring to the next European summit a proposal for the adoption of urgent actions,” added Spain’s Sanchez.

For his part, Portugal’s Costa underlined that “energy is a major issue for the implementation of the national Recovery and Sustainability Plans of the EU countries.”

That is why he insisted “the next European summit must take concrete decisions, so that the economic recovery is not interrupted and social cohesion prevails.”