The Parliament President was speaking at the beginning of a European summit on 30 May dedicated to discussing the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Although public opinion is currently in favour of a strong response, Metsola said we should be prepared to continue the same approach even when this becomes more difficult.
“We must remain steadfast and start planning our long-term engagement in the region beyond the immediacy of emergency help to Ukraine,” she said. “Europe must lead and must remain in the lead.”
The President said it was important to grant Ukraine candidate status for EU membership as this can transform countries: “What Ukraine needs right now is hope and perspective, or we will force Kyiv to look elsewhere.
“We are at a point in time when the EU must become a real global power for democracy – flying the flag of liberal democracies in a world that is becoming more complicated and more dangerous.
“No-one is saying it will be easy, or even straightforward, but it is worth it.“
Metsola urged EU heads of state and government to continue with sanctions and find agreement on new ones. As Belarus has been supporting Russia in its illegal war, the country should also face sanctions.
The President underlined the importance of finding ways to transport grain out of Ukraine: “We urgently need to find ways to get grain moving out of Ukraine to where it is most needed in the world.”
The war in Ukraine also highlights the importance of energy independence for the EU and fast-forward the green transition, Metsola said. “Our aim needs to remain to disentangle ourselves from Russian energy. We should not be the ones to blink, but there is a limit to how much flexibility we can allow without losing credibility vis-à-vis our populations and look weak in the face of a Russia that, we know, shows no respect for weakness.
Addressing security and defence, the President said: “There will be a necessity to increase our defence budgets and we need to see how better to re-direct common funds towards enhancing our defence capabilities.”