Selenskyj: EU accession negotiations can start this year

Kiev (dpa) – Ukrainian President Wolodymyr Selenskyj continues to press for his country’s swift accession to the European Union after the summit with EU representatives in Kiev. “We are already speaking as members of the EU,” Selenskyj said in his evening video message, broadcast in Kiev on 3 February. The status just needed to be enshrined in law, he stated. However, the European Commission, headed by President Ursula von der Leyen, had stressed that Ukraine still had a long way to go before becoming a member of the European Union.

“There is an understanding that it is possible to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union this year,” Selenskyj said. There were no such concrete statements from the EU side. Von der Leyen had praised Selenskyj’s determination and will to reform in Kiev, but also stressed that there was still work to be done. There is no timetable.

Selenskyj is traditionally euphoric about Ukraine’s quick EU membership. “We are preparing Ukraine for greater integration into the internal market of the EU – that means more income for Ukrainian companies, more production and jobs in our country. And more income for our state and local households,” he said. “This is what will really make Ukraine stronger.” Ukraine would do everything to ensure that Russian aggression turned into a “suicide” for Moscow, Selenskyj added. Thus, he said, the EU had now also welcomed his plan for peace in Ukraine. The core of Selenskyj’s plan is the withdrawal of Russian troops before negotiations begin. Russia, which controls almost 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory, rejects this request as absurd.

Selenskyj also reported on the visit of Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak. Within the Western tank coalition, everything is being done to ensure that Ukraine receives modern heavy weapons as soon as possible. The tanks should not only help the country to stop the Russian advance, but also to reverse the conquest of occupied territories. Selenskyj admitted that in the face of massive Russian attacks, the situation in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine was difficult. (February 5)

French and German economic ministers fly to Washington to demand state aid transparency

Brussels (ANSA) – Paris and Berlin are taking the initiative after the European Commission’s proposal to open the spigots of state aid in response to the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire and his German counterpart Robert Habeck fly to Washington on Tuesday to demand “transparency” from Joe Biden’s administration, which is committed to deploying its 370-billion-dollar-package of subsidies for the US energy transition, including tax cuts for electric cars and US-made batteries.

In talks with US Commerce and Treasury Secretaries Gina Raimondo and Janet Yellen, Le Maire and Habeck will demand that the US government share the amount and recipients of aid within the scope of a ”mutual transparency mechanism.” “We have to be realistic, IRA is a turning point,” Le Maire said before the trip, stressing that the US law “offers competitive advantages that, together with very low energy prices in the US, pose a risk for European industries.” The challenge, for the French minister, ”is to succeed in developing together, in the US and Europe, an efficient and competitive green industry, the most innovative on the planet.” (February 5)

Croatia will not build walls, fences or wires on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mostar (FENA) – Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, in an address to delegates of the Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) – the political umbrella organization of parties with a Croatian background in BiH – promised that his country would continue to provide strong support to the Croatian people in BiH, to help solve all their existential problems.

Considering that more than a quarter of Croatian citizens were of BiH origin, said Plenković, it was quite logical that the Republic of Croatia placed major emphasis on the rights of Croats in BiH. On the other hand, he added the Croatian government would not do anything that would violate the rights of other nationalities in BiH.

The Croatian Prime Minister called for a strengthening of cooperation in all areas of bilateral relations. Croatia would not build walls, fences or wires on the border with BiH, but with the cooperation of its institutions, the police would prevent illegal migration, he added.

Plenković stated that the Republic of Croatia would do everything in its power to help BiH on its European path. He congratulated BiH on its candidate status for membership in the European Union, announcing that he would do everything in order for BiH to catch up as soon as possible with other countries in the south-east of Europe, which were in a somewhat more advanced stage of accession negotiations. (February 4)

G7 and Australia agree with EU on Russian oil price cap

Brussels (AFP) – On Friday, the G7 powers and Australia reached agreement on a price cap for Russian oil products, following an EU deal earlier in the day and two days before the start of an EU embargo on the products.

In a joint statement, the partner countries announced that they had reached an agreement “on the maximum prices for seaborne Russian-origin petroleum products.”

It is to be implemented from Sunday “or very soon thereafter,” says the text signed by the EU, Germany, Australia, the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the US.

On Thursday during a visit to Kiev, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen estimated that the existing price cap on Russian oil was already costing Moscow around 160 million euros every day.

On Friday, she said the bloc was readying a new round of sanctions against Russia – its 10th package since the war started a year ago.

“We must continue to deprive Russia of the means to wage war against Ukraine,” she stated, also highlighting the EU’s import ban on Russian petroleum products from Sunday, February 5.

“With the G7 we are putting price caps on these products, cutting Russia’s revenue while ensuring stable global energy markets,” she said. (February 3, 2023)

25-million-euro-grant for North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley project

Ljubljana (STA) – The North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley project, involving Slovenia, Croatia and Italy, has been awarded a 25-million-euro-grant under the Horizon Europe call for proposals. The project would start this year, as soon as the date was agreed with the European Commission, most probably in the second half of the year, said Holding Slovenske elektrarne, the Slovenian state owned power generation company and the project’s lead partner.

The tender was launched under the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, a public-private partnership supporting research and development of hydrogen technologies in Europe. Nine projects were selected in the tender, with a total value of 105.4 million euros, the partnership said in a press release.

The North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley project is a collaboration between Slovenia, Croatia and the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Among the objectives is the decarbonization of important industrial sectors, such as steel and cement production. (February 2)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.