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Juan Fernando López Aguilar: "The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has forced the European Union to give a response of strengthened unity".

The chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Freedoms, Justice and Home Affairs took part in a session with students at the University of Navarra.

FotoIR/JuanFernando López Aguilar addresses students in an online session that was moderated by vice-dean Asun de la Iglesia and professor Pedro Vázquez de Prada.

31 | 03 | 2022

The President of the Committee on Freedoms, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament and former Minister of Justice of the Spanish Government, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, participated in the European Union Summit organised by the School de Derecho and highlighted the united response of the EU member countries to the conflict in Ukraine, either through economic sanctions, or by supporting the government of Volodimir Zelensky and taking in millions of refugees. "The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has forced the EU to give a response of strengthened unity," he said. López Aguilar referred to other recent crises that the European Union had had to face, such as the refugee crisis of 2015 and 2016, the Brexit or the health and social crisis generated by the pandemic. "Facing a series of crises forces you to mature, to change for the better", he said. 

During his speech, López Aguilar listed some of Russia's defining characteristics and its obsession with preserving its security: "Putin's goal is that no country bordering Russia should join NATO. He is obsessed by the case of Ukraine". 

The chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Citizens' Freedoms spoke of Russia as a vast but sparsely populated country with an ageing population; a country that spends part of its resources on defence, is a nuclear power and represents the most pronounced concentration of power on the planet in the figure of Putin, who has been at the helm of the Kremlin for 23 years. 

"The war of aggression against Ukraine has been decided by Putin, not Russia. The European Union must respond with unity in the face of a concentration of power that cannot be matched anywhere in the world". López Aguilar called for the establishment of economic sanctions, as is already being done, to weaken the oligarchs who sustain Putin's power; and to speed up the energy autonomy of EU countries "that will allow us to do without Russian gas". He also highlighted the agreement reached by Europe'scommittee to promote the so-called 'Strategic Compass', a defensive alliance in which most member states have joined. 


The protection of all persons 

According to Juan Fernando López Aguilar, another sign of this strengthened unity of the European Union is, firstly, support for the Ukrainian government, and secondly, the protection of all people who arrive in the EU fleeing the conflict: people who arrive with the right to work, health care, schooling, etc. 

Juan Fernando López Aguilar explained that in an unprecedented act, the EU adopted only a week after the outbreak of the conflict an Implementing Decision from committee initiating temporary protection for displaced Ukrainians on EU territory. This is the first time that the EU has decided to use the mechanism of temporary protection and López Aguilar admitted that it was a decision that had not been without its critics, as it was a directive that was not applied to deal with the Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016.