Government Communications Department
On Wednesday 16 July, the European Council convened in Brussels to discuss the situation in Ukraine and in the Middle East. The European Council stresses its support for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Ukraine and condemns the illegal activities by armed militants in Eastern Ukraine. Russia should use its influence to achieve a de-escalation of the crisis. In their June meeting, the EU leaders requested steps to be taken with regard to the situation in Ukraine but such steps had not been taken by the set timeline. For that reason, the European Council agreed to expand the restrictive measures in its meeting on Wednesday.
The expanded measures - including travel bans and asset freezes - are targeted at persons and entities that are supporting actions undermining or threatening Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
The EU Foreign Ministers should consider the possibility of targeting individuals or businesses who actively provide support to the Russian decision-makers responsible for the illegal annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine.
The European Council requests the European Investment Bank to suspend the signature of new financing operations in Russia. The European Union Member States will coordinate their positions within the EBRD Board of Directors with a view to also suspending financing of new operations.
The European Council also invites the Commission to re-assess EU-Russia cooperation programmes with a view to taking a decision, on a case by case basis, on the suspension of the implementation of such programmes. However, projects dealing exclusively with cross-border cooperation and civil society will be maintained, which is important for Finland.
The European Council expressed its concern over the continued violence in the Middle East. The European Union calls on both sides to end the violence and return to calm.
Inquiries: Lauri Tierala, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 40 841 7141 and Kare Halonen, State Secretary, EU Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 315, Prime Minister's Office