Liz Truss to Europe: Stand firm against Vladimir Putin

EuroActiv Politico News

U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss will urge European leaders to “stand firm” in the fight against Russian aggression when she addresses them Thursday.

Truss, who is fighting a political firestorm back home after a botched budget and fractious party conference, will tell the inaugural meeting of the European Political Community in Prague that the continent is “facing its biggest crisis since the second world war,” according to extracts released by the U.K. government.

And she will praise the “unity and resolve” shown since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We must continue to stand firm — to ensure that Ukraine wins this war, but also to deal with the strategic challenges that it has exposed,” she will add.

Addressing the opening of the EPC summit — the brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron — Truss will argue that the threat posed by Putin “was left to fester for far too long,” and urge vigilance on “longstanding regional issues like energy and migration.”

“Instead of the old approach which merely dealt with the symptoms, it’s time to address the fundamental causes,” she is expected to say.

As well as providing a temporary reprieve from her domestic troubles, Truss’ attendance at the EPC meeting is already being viewed as a shift in the way the country engages with Europe, after months of bitter fights over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland.

Extracts from Liz Truss’ speech to European leaders were released following a botched budget and a fractious party conference on home turf, including this interruption by Greenpeace protestors | Hollie Adams / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.K. government was initially wary of the new grouping, but it has warmed to the idea as it became clear that the European Commission will not play a central role. Participating countries have agreed to alternate meetings in countries inside and outside the EU every six months — upping the likelihood of the U.K. itself hosting the second gathering.

While in Prague, Truss is set to hold bilateral meetings with Macron, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Downing Street said the prime minister would call on countries “to go further and faster to end Europe’s reliance on Russian hydrocarbons” and urge them to do more to build energy independence. Truss is expected to discuss joint projects to develop new nuclear and offshore wind capacity.