Daily Management Review

After Agreeing To Disagree On A Gas Cap, EU Leaders Will Focus On China And Iran


When European Union leaders meet for the second day of talks in Brussels on Friday, they will discuss reducing their economic reliance on China, assisting Kiev, and punishing Iran for its role in Russia's war on Ukraine.
The previous day, the EU's 27 leaders clashed over a coordinated response to the acute energy crisis that has engulfed the bloc since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.
Their summit talks began on Thursday afternoon and lasted until the early hours of Friday morning, as Germany refused to cap gas prices and the 27 could only agree to disagree, declaring that they will continue to look into ways to limit costs.
They will have a "strategic discussion" on their ties with China beginning at 0800 GMT on Friday, after the EU's executive said earlier this week that the EU should see Beijing as a competitor.
"We have been a bit too complacent as European countries," said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo. "Over the past months, we've understood that in a lot of pure economic domains, geopolitics also play an important role."
The European Union's first full summit with the ASEAN group of Southeast Asian countries is scheduled for December 14, with Europe hoping to strengthen trade and geopolitical ties with a region dominated by China.
Smaller countries also called for a united EU front against Beijing, citing German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's upcoming visit to China.
According to Eurointelligence, Berlin risks flexing its economic muscle at the expense of broader European interests, and Scholz is now determined to allow China to invest in the strategic port of Hamburg.
"Germany's industrial strategy, and its economic model that feeds it, is toxic for the EU," Eurointelligence said in a commentary on Thursday.
Germany, the EU's largest economy, is also at the forefront of the small EU camp opposed to gas price caps, with Scholz trying to defend himself on Thursday against allegations from other EU leaders that Berlin is trying tpo achieve selfish and biased energy policies.
Europe's reliance on Russia was exposed when Moscow slashed gas shipments after its invasion of Ukraine, resulting in the EU grappling not only with a political, security, and humanitarian crisis, but also with an energy crisis.
On Thursday, the EU levied quick but restricted sanctions on Iran for providing drones to Russia's war in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that has decided to seek to combine with the West this century despite Kremlin opposition.
Some European nations expect Iran to face harsher sanctions, and the summit will also criticise Tehran's usage force against protesters.
Poland and the three Balkan countries have also postulated imposing additional sanctions on Russia, but such a decision would involve unanimous consent among the 27 nations, which is currently lacking.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the EU should figure out ways to use more over 300 billion euros in frozen Russian assets in the bloc to benefit Ukraine, as well as push for the formation of an international tribunal to judge war crimes committed in Ukraine.
"This is pure terrorism," Kallas said of Russia's war. "And it's awful that it's possible to do this in year 2022."