Today, the European Parliament debated the social and economic impact of the war in Ukraine in the presence of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto spoke on behalf of the ECR Group.
According to Fitto, the Union must act to mitigate the negative impact on European societies of the sanctions it has imposed on Russia.
Mr Fitto’s full statement reads:
Thank you, Minister, Madam President of the Commission
I listened very carefully to your speech, and I think that this exchange of ideas to find immediate and rapid solutions to the development of the conflict is very useful and important.
There is no doubt that the path being pursued is one that must be pursued decisively with regard to the attitude towards Russia, not only of condemnation but also of concrete action.
So the sanctions package is undoubtedly the decisive element on which to work in order to achieve results; but the sanctions package is also a fundamental prerequisite for the reactions and choices that must be made in Europe.
We know that they are not very popular in our continent, and that in some countries they risk creating major problems. And it is clear that important responses are needed, and so the long-term objective of reconstruction in Ukraine is certainly fundamental, and the Commission is right to concern itself with it, but today we must also come to terms with the objective situation.
Firstly, between February and March, European exports fell by 6 per cent. A strong response is needed. The compensation fund – we have an example, the Brexit model used in that direction – can be a solution, because sanctions do not operate in the same way in all countries. There are countries that suffer more than others.
Secondly, structural choices – as mentioned by Ms De Lange in relation to the Fit for 55 issue. Is it possible that we are not changing anything from what we imagined before the war? Is the war not an event that should make us reflect on the need to change the approach that the Commission and the European institutions have taken? I think so, and therefore implementation times and the overly ambitious targets of the Fit for 55 are a decisive element on which we should start reflecting in order to change these choices.
Then, another concrete proposal, which goes hand in hand with the need for a response on the major economic issues and therefore on the stability pact – a debate that is being postponed but which should be fundamental to accompany the measures that need to be taken forward. This is the issue that we raised yesterday in the debate with Italian Prime Minister Draghi.
Article 21 of the Recovery and Resilience Facility says very clearly that, in extraordinary cases, these instruments – which are very important resources – can be modified according to current needs. Before the war, the Commission included an article in the regulation indicating the need to modify the national plans in order to adapt them to new needs, and I think that this is the time to take note of this and modify the choices in this direction to be able to devise appropriate solutions in this sense.
I will close with a final reference. If we want to be effective on sanctions, we must avoid diverging from one another on two fundamental elements: joint purchases and the cap on gas purchase prices. We need a unified response on this; differentiation does not help, and risks weakening the overall strategy we are putting in place.