Financial Times – Richard Milne / Denmark votes to end EU defence opt-out in historic referendum
- Denmark will join the EU’s defence policy in the latest shake-up of Europe’s security architecture following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- In the largest ever pro-EU vote in the traditionally Eurosceptic Scandinavian country, 67 per cent of Danes voted in favour of ending the opt-out in a historic referendum.
- It is the first time in three attempts that Denmark has voted to end one of its hard-won opt-outs, after it rejected the Maastricht treaty in 1992. The result also came two weeks after Finland and Sweden submitted applications to join Nato.
- “Tonight, Denmark has sent a very important signal — to our allies in Europe, and to [Russian president Vladimir] Putin. We show that when Putin invades a free country and threatens the stability of Europe, so we others move closer together,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
- Project Syndicate – Josep Borrell / Getting serious about European defence
Politico – Zosia Wanat / EU gives Poland route to pandemic recovery cash
- The European Commission has endorsed a plan paving the way for Poland to unlock billions in post-pandemic funds — despite little concrete movement yet on the rule-of-law concerns holding up the money.
- The EU’s pandemic recovery fund was not originally designed as a tool to police the bloc’s democratic norms. But it became just that over the last year as Brussels refused to OK Warsaw’s plan to spend roughly €36 billion in grants and loans — part of the bloc’s €800 billion recovery fund — due to concerns over judicial independence and the country’s failure to implement rulings from the EU’s top court.
- The war in Ukraine has changed things, however, temporarily transforming Warsaw’s image in Brussels from rule-of-law troublemaker to constructive partner. And France’s desire to finalize a global minimum corporate tax rate — blocked by Poland — gave the Commission extra impetus to strike a deal. In Poland, meanwhile, Russia’s invasion has offered a reminder that Poland needs its Western partners — and that extra EU cash helps when costs suddenly spike.
- Notably, the compromise agreement, seen by POLITICO, will not immediately give Poland access to any cash. Instead, it essentially creates a pay-for-performance plan, giving Poland “milestones” it must hit to get each successive tranche of its stimulus money. Still, the text shows the Berlaymont has limited the scope of its demands.
- European Commission / NextGenerationEU: European Commission endorses Poland’s 35.4 billion recovery and resilience plan
Bloomberg – Jennifer Jacobs / Biden likely to visit Saudi Arabia as US gasoline prices spiral, sources say
- President Joe Biden is likely to visit Saudi Arabia later this month as part of an international trip for NATO and Group of Seven meetings, according to people familiar with the matter, with record high US gas prices weighing on his party’s political prospects.
- Traveling to Saudi Arabia would mean Biden would almost inevitably meet its effective ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, whom the US president blames for the 2018 murder of a US-based columnist in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
- The people familiar with the matter said only that a Saudi Arabia trip was likely, without confirming a meeting with the crown prince. They asked not to be identified because Biden’s travel plans haven’t been finalized.
- The president is expected to attend a NATO summit in Madrid and a G-7 meeting in Munich at the end of the month.
- Financial Times – David Sheppard, Samer Al-Atrush and Derek Brower / Saudi Arabia ready to pump more oil if Russian output sinks under ban
The Guardian – Peter Beaumont, Dan Sabbagh and Isobel Koshiw / Luhansk governor says Russia now controls 70% of Sievierodonetsk
- Russian forces now control more than two-thirds of the key eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, as Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, conceded that Kyiv’s forces were suffering up to 100 deaths and 500 wounded every day.
- With fierce street fighting in Sievierodonetsk, western officials suggested that the city of Sloviansk was the likely next target for a Russian advance that has made gains in the past two weeks, even as the Biden administration in the US announced it was sending advanced rocket systems to Kyiv.
- Confirming the latest gains in Sievierodonetsk, a strategically important city in Ukraine’s east, the Luhansk regional governor, Serhiy Haidai, said on Wednesday that Russia controlled 70% of the city.
- “Unfortunately, today, Russian troops control most of the city,” said Haidai. “Some Ukrainian troops have retreated to more advantageous, pre-prepared positions.”
- Foreign Affairs – Samuel Charap / Ukraine’s best chance for peace
Today’s longer reads:
- Financial Times – Kathrin Hille / Taiwan’s opposition tries to claw back America’s trust
- Foreign Affairs – Yana Gorokhovskaia and Isabel Linzer / The long arm of authoritarianism