“A direct military confrontation between Ukraine and Russia might well see the situation spiral completely out of control. The parties to the conflict and the international community must do everything in their power to prevent this from happening,” the EP president said, addressing heads of state and government at the start of the special meeting of the European Council on Saturday 30 August dedicated to appointing candidates for top EU jobs.
Schulz urged the members of the European Council to reach a decision on “further sanctions, on the one hand, and yet more determined diplomatic and political efforts, on the other.”
Schulz called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and scale down forces at its border with Ukraine. “We must provide Ukraine with the financial and political help it needs to overcome these major challenges, so that it can continue to exist as a unified and independent country,“ he added.
EU “faced with highly dangerous conflicts”
“Wars are being waged in our immediate neighbourhood, states are collapsing and civilians are fleeing as best they can from the most terrible atrocities. We are faced with highly dangerous conflicts, to our east and to our south,” he said calling on the EU to play a more ambitious and active international role.
Schulz reminded leaders that the EU is already providing humanitarian aid to countries including Iraq, Syria, Gaza and Ukraine but stressed that the needs far exceed the funds available. “We urge the Council and Commission to overcome the backlog of payments for humanitarian assistance by approving the requisite budget amendments as a matter of priority.”
A gender-balanced Commission
Schulz also expressed concern about the lack of female nominees for the next Commission. “A Commission which lacks an appropriate gender balance – which seems to be the case at present – may well end up not securing a majority in Parliament and being rejected,“ he said.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Federica Mogherini were appointed, respectively, President of the European Council and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy during the meeting.