The heads of state and government of the European Union will meet in Brussels on Thursday morning for their two-day spring summit. It's actually about an ammunition package worth billions for Ukraine and the expansion of "green" technologies in Europe. However, there is a risk of disputes over German cars and French nuclear power.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is likely to come under pressure at the summit because the FDP had slowed down the Europe-wide end for cars with combustion engines from 2035 in the last few meters. France and other countries therefore accuse the federal government of unreliability and speak of an unprecedented "precedent". The EU Commission and the Federal Ministry of Transport were negotiating a solution behind the scenes, but there were no signs of a breakthrough for the time being.
French President Emmanuel Macron wants to break a lance for nuclear power at the summit, from which France continues to obtain around 70 percent of its electricity - the largest share in the world. Macron's environment said there should be no "discrimination" against nuclear energy in the EU. The President wants to urge the partners to decide on the role of nuclear power in Europe "once and for all".
Macron, who is under pressure domestically from the protests against his pension reform, is opposed, among other things, to a new legislative proposal with which the EU Commission wants to massively expand clean technologies. This is intended to stand up to the USA and China and make Europe the first continent to become climate-neutral. With the so-called Net Zero Industry Act, however, only new and "advanced" nuclear reactors are to be funded, not existing reactors.
Germany and Austria want to prevent nuclear power from being classified as "clean". According to information from those around him, Macron is planning a bilateral meeting with Scholz on the conflict issues on Friday.
The disputes come at an inopportune time, because important topics are on the summit agenda, as the invitation letter from EU Council President Charles Michel shows. The heads of state and government will meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres for a working lunch on Thursday. According to information from Guterres' environment, it is about Ukraine and the fight against climate change.
After that, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj is to be connected via video conference. Ahead of the February 24 anniversary of the Russian attack, he personally attended a special Brussels summit and urged Europeans to deliver fighter jets and other military aid.
The EU heads of state and government first want to release an ammunition package for Ukraine that the foreign and defense ministers agreed on Monday. "Our goal is to supply Ukraine with one million rounds of ammunition within the next twelve months," writes Michel. The package worth two billion euros is to be financed from a special EU pot.
The international arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow are also likely to be discussed at the EU summit. However, according to diplomats, Hungary wants to prevent clear language in the summit declaration.
In addition to competitiveness and industrial policy, it is also about migration: Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to report on progress in securing the external borders, as she writes in a letter to the heads of state and government. Austria or Bulgaria are pushing for isolation because of the increasing number of refugees, while Germany is opting for legal immigration.
At the end of the summit, the 20 euro countries will discuss with the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde, on Friday. The focus is on the recent banking crises in the USA and Switzerland.