Good morning. Two big energy stories from yesterday. European commissioners are fighting like cats over including nuclear power in the EU’s new green industry strategy, due out tomorrow. And the energy commissioner has criticised Germany’s idea to cap its electricity costs, hours after unveiling her own recipe to stabilise energy markets.
Here, I detail today’s meeting of western defence officials, which will feature discussions on closing the gap between weapons Ukraine has been promised and what they have actually received. Plus, the man investigating foreign influence in the European parliament tells my Brussels colleague his main concern is former lawmakers selling their access.
Mind the gap
Defence officials from more than 50 countries supporting Kyiv will meet today with a pressing question to answer: Why are fewer weapons arriving in Ukraine than have been promised?
Context: Formed soon after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the US-led “Ramstein” contact group of countries has met regularly and is the main co-ordination format for the more than $60bn worth of weapons pledges made by western states over the past year.
Previous meetings have been tailored to Ukraine’s most pressing needs at that time, focused on drumming up pledges for air defence systems, tanks, and — lately — ammunition.
But today’s virtual gathering will seek to question why there’s such a difference between what countries promised to send, and what they have actually delivered, according to four people briefed on the planning.
“The focus this time is on delivery, fundraising, getting pledged stuff into Ukraine as soon as possible,” said one of the people.
Discussions will also touch on a €2bn EU proposal to both speed up shipments of artillery ammunition to Ukraine and increase the level of European production, so that supplies can be sustained.
Ukraine has in recent weeks stepped up its pleas for more artillery rounds, claiming that it is being out-fired four-to-one by Russian forces in high-intensity shelling in the east of the country.
Discussions may also touch on the need for Europe to do more to help Kyiv. The US has pledged more than $44bn in military aid to Ukraine, 70 per cent of the entire western support, and 10 times the level of the next country: the UK. Taken as a whole, the EU comes in second, but is under pressure to do more, given that the war is on its border.
Chart du jour: Long way down
Shares in Credit Suisse have slid further amid fear of contagion from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in the US. The crisis-ridden Swiss lender yesterday flagged “material weaknesses” in its financial reporting controls.
Blocking the revolving door
Suitcases of Qatari cash are not the biggest concern of Raphaël Glucksmann, the EU politician charged with investigating foreign influence in the European parliament. What’s bothering the French socialist are lawmakers taking corporate jobs after they leave office, writes Alice Hancock.
Context: Exposed in December, parliament’s most serious corruption scandal involved alleged bribes from Qatari and Moroccan officials to lawmakers and related officials. The scandal has led to a string of arrests and sparked demands for a major overhaul of EU graft oversight.
Glucksmann has been tasked with digging up shortcomings in the ethics rules of the EU’s largest political institution. He will deliver a report by July.
At its centre will be a crackdown on the EU’s “golden pension system”, he told the Financial Times, whereby lawmakers at the end of their mandate seek non-executive roles at powerful companies potentially looking to influence the bloc’s policy.
Take, for example, Gerhard Schröder, he says. The former German chancellor went to work for Russian energy majors Rosneft and Gazprom after leaving office, only stepping down after political pressure last year.
“Schröder working for Gazprom has had more impact on EU policy than bags of cash in the European parliament,” Glucksmann said. And, he added, the problem is “super widespread. It is not just in the European parliament or the commission. It is in every single member state”.
On Monday, parliamentary group presidents agreed in principle to a six-months cooling-off period for former MEPs. A formal decision is pending in April, along with talks over tightening access to parliament buildings.
Glucksmann wants to go further. More drastic would be a general ban on parliamentarians working for corporates after leaving office. His preferred option, though, is to have a list of “problematic companies” based on assessments already drawn up by security agencies, which exiting lawmakers should avoid.
But the French lawmaker worries that the appetite for reform in parliament is waning, and has pushed for a plenary vote on his report in July. “If we let the moment pass, it will not happen,” he said.
What to watch today
Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen speak at the European parliament.
Parliament president Roberta Metsola meets Kosovo prime minister Albin Kurti at 1pm, and Georgian president Salome Zourabichvili at 6pm.
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