Seventy presidents and prime ministers from Europe and Africa are gathered today in Brussels for a long-awaited European Union-African Union summit, the sixth such summit between the two blocs. But ahead of that gathering, Europe’s 27 leaders huddled together for an emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
The emergency meeting was called by European Council President Charles Michel to brief the bloc’s leaders on the latest developments in the crisis, including a reported shelling of a kindergarten in eastern Ukraine, which occurred as the meeting of EU leaders was taking place. The EU leaders also heard a presentation from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the sanctions package the commission has reportedly prepared to implement in the event of a Russian military invasion.
The package was not yet presented for a vote or even a debate. But von der Leyen’s presentation was an effort shore up consensus among the bloc’s leaders ahead of a potential situation where the sanctions are ready to be rolled out, presumably within hours of an invasion of Ukraine. In particular, the commission wants to ensure that EU leaders, particularly the member states that could be most hurt by the impact of sanctions on their own economies, are aware of the potential costs involved.