Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel ahead of the Council of Europe, G7 and EU-Republic of Korea Summits

We have an intense sequence of events ahead of us, starting tomorrow. As you know, we will attend together the Summit of the Council of Europe in Iceland. Then, we will go to the G7 Summit in Hiroshima. And finally, we will have the Summit between the European Union and the Republic of Korea in Seoul. What we wanted to do today is to give you some insights into the main underlying themes that will accompany us from one summit to the next.

The first topic – a big and important topic – is of course Ukraine. And here, it is about our united response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but it is also about our prolonged, reliable support for this brave nation. As you might know, last week on Tuesday, I was in Kyiv and it was impressive to see and to experience firsthand again the perseverance, the resilience and the stamina of the Ukrainian people. Therefore, I think that we, the supporting countries, also now need to show the same level of stamina and perseverance. And I expect the leaders to rally behind this. I also expect the leaders to rally behind two main principles: The first principle is that we will keep supporting Ukraine, for ‘as long as it takes’. The second principle is ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine’.

‘As long as it takes’ must basically translate into: stable financial support, of course also beyond 2023; an accelerated military support, focused on the ‘now’ and ‘here’; ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine’ means very strong support for President Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula. We should never forget that Ukraine is the country that was brutally invaded. It is therefore the one that should set out the core principles for a just peace. President Zelenskyy himself has presented this Peace Formula, he states that he is open to discuss. But the Peace Formula should be, for all of us, the basis for all of our efforts and the basis on which we start working. Then in the G7, we will also discuss sanctions and we will of course take stock of the existing and future measures. As you know, the Commission has proposed the 11th package of sanctions. It is mainly focused on enforcement and anti-circumvention. This is of course, as always, very closely coordinated with the other G7 partners that are also building similar packages. Finally, in Reykjavík we will discuss how to hold Russia accountable. I will very strongly support the creation of a dedicated tribunal to bring Russia’s crime of aggression to trial. We will also decide on setting up a register of damage in The Hague. It will be a first step, but a very good step, towards Russian compensation. This is as far as Ukraine is concerned.

The second key topic of this sequence of summits and meetings is how to manage the relationship with a changing China. While we all have our independent relationships with China, I am confident that the G7 leaders will converge on a set of core shared principles. First of all, we seek a multifaceted approach to our economic relationship with China. It is characterised by de-risking, not decoupling. At the same time, we will seek to cooperate with China on issues of global concern such as climate change. Of course, we are competing with China. This means: We have to strengthen our own economic vibrancy; we have to do our homework in our economies. We will reduce strategic dependencies. We have learnt the lessons of last year. And we stand together as partners on core foreign policy and security challenges. This means: We will keep calling on China to refrain from supporting Russia’s war. We will reaffirm our unwavering commitment to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. We acknowledge the ‘One-China policy’. We are collectively opposing any unilateral change to the status quo, particularly if by force. And another topic: We will protect a narrow set of advanced technologies of which we know that they will determine next-generation military advantage. This brings me naturally to the topic of economic security. It is a new and important topic.

We have seen attempts of economic coercion – for example, China towards Lithuania. We have seen similar practices vis-à-vis Japan and Australia. We are most vulnerable to coercion in general where dependencies build up. That is why we are taking action so seriously to enhance our resilience, so to prevent vulnerabilities. We have for example to reduce our dependencies on critical raw materials, we spoke a lot about it. That is the reason why proposed the Critical Raw Materials Act.

And for example, on advanced technologies, as you know, we are currently reflecting on upgrading our toolkit. For example, on outbound investment screening or advanced export controls. Japan is already since long a front-runner in this area. It has therefore made economic security a central theme of its G7 Presidency. And on everything I have just discussed, the Commission will table an economic security strategy in June.

The last horizontal theme I want to highlight relates to clean tech. Decarbonisation is the challenge of our century – without any question. We all need and want to build competitive clean-tech industrial bases. When we started with the European Green Deal, that was back in December 2019, at the beginning of my mandate, it was all about rapid deployment of renewable energies. Now it is all about access to technology, access to raw materials and scaling up of manufacturing. We all share these priorities – this is good. The common goal must be the build-up of clean-tech capacities. But not at each other’s expense, otherwise it is going to end up in a zero-sum game. What the world desperately needs, is a huge leap in the development and roll-out of these technologies, and this across the globe. The demand is colossal. So, our incentives should be mutually reinforcing, not competing. The opportunities are there, without any doubt. This will also be a big topic to discuss at the G7.

My final word is on infrastructure. Strengthening our economic security and diversifying. All of this implies of course also going beyond our circles of G7 or G20 partners. It means reaching out to new countries with new offers of a partnership. This is what, as you know, Global Gateway is all about. In Hiroshima, I will co-chair with President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida a side event of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, in short PGII. PGII integrates all the different activities around this topic, for instance also our Global Gateway. This is the flagship G7 initiative we started last year in Elmau. The aim of this side event is to mobilise the private sector. We have invited leading CEOs to discuss with us concrete proposals and the way forward. They have to bring the private capital, we have to bring the de-risking and the conducive investment environment. That is what the side event will be all about.

This is my outlook on the week to come.