Lenarčič says EU Commission hopes reason will prevail in Ukraine crisis

Brussels – Janez Lenarčič, Slovenia’s European commissioner, told Slovenian correspondents in Brussels on Friday that the European Commission’s work was currently most affected by the Ukraine crisis. It is preparing for all possible scenarios, hoping that reason will prevail and peace will be preserved, he stressed.

The Commission gives legislative proposals and proposes sanctions in this field, he explained in the interview with Slovenian correspondents.

Since the start of its term, the Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen has been putting the green transition and digital transformation in the forefront, with the most attention currently paid to the issue of perceiving nuclear energy and gas as green sources of energy in the transition period.

According to Lenarčič, the Commission is carefully looking into the comments of member states, as it would like its proposal to receive sufficient support, which he expects it will.

Turning to the EU crisis management, the area that Lenarčič is responsible for in the Commission, he pointed to two major disappointments.

The first is that member states have failed to endorse the Commission’s proposal to allocate additional EUR 5 billion from the recovery and resilience fund for humanitarian purposes, arguing that there was no legal basis for this and confirming only half a billion euro instead.

The second major disappointment is the emerging humanitarian crises and the situation in Afghanistan in particular, where the Taliban have taken over. “The story has collapsed like a house of cards in a record short amount of time,” he said.

Afghanistan is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and the UN called for US$ 4.4 billion of humanitarian aid to the country, the largest amount ever.

In civil protection, Lenarčič noted that by 2019 countries had used the European mechanism for civil protection 20 times a year on average, while last year the mechanism was activated 114 times because of the pandemic and climate change, especially forest fires.

At the end of October last year, Australia requested for aid from the mechanism for the first time ever. Climate change is also causing tensions, conflicts even, for example in the Sahel, he said.

As the Commission started its term right after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still paralysing the society and economy, the main project was the setting up of joint rescEU capabilities.

Almost two years since the start of the project, the warehouses in nine countries, including Slovenia, are full of emergency medical equipment, including dozens of millions of protective masks, ventilators and other equipment, Lenarčič said.

In general, the EU can be proud of the role it has played in dealing with the pandemic, he said.