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Trudeau, EU leaders talk Ukraine and climate at Canada summit

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The leaders of Canada and the European Union reiterated on Friday (24 November) strong support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion, while pledging to deepen coordination on climate efforts.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel at a summit in Canada’s easternmost city, St. John’s.

“We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the two sides said in a statement, pledging to “work to address Ukraine’s immediate military and defense needs and ensure Ukraine has the long-term security commitments needed.”

Trudeau announced that Canada would donate 11,000 assault rifles to Ukraine along with nine million rounds of ammunition.

Since the Russian invasion began in February 2022, Canada has pledged Can$2.4 billion (€1.645 billion) in military aid to Ukraine.

Michel also said that the EU was “ready to do more in the weeks to come.”

The announcements come as the United States, Ukraine’s biggest military backer by far, has been unable to pass additional funding through Congress amid political deadlock.

Von der Leyen praised Canada as having backed Ukraine even before the war.

She cited Canadian programs to train the military in pro-Western Ukraine and said this had been key in fighting the invasion.

Von der Leyen said the EU has now trained 30,000 Ukrainian troops out of its goal of 40,000, and that the bloc will soon disclose what it plans to do with Russian assets it has seized in response to the invasion.

The European leaders also expressed interest in Canada’s rich mineral resources, especially those used in electric vehicle batteries, with Von der Leyen inviting Canada to join a “critical raw material club” the EU plans to launch at next week’s COP28 summit in the United Arab Emirates.

The former German defense minister described Canada as “the only country in the Western Hemisphere with all the raw materials required for lithium batteries.”

The leaders also announced the creation of a Canada-EU Green Alliance to strengthen cooperation in the fight against climate change, notably in regards to carbon markets and green hydrogen.

Research and innovation were top of mind at today’s Canada-EU Summit – so stopping by @Genesis_Centre with @CharlesMichel and @vonderLeyen made perfect sense. To all of the innovators and entrepreneurs we met: Thank you. Keep leading the way with your talent and your ideas. pic.twitter.com/2NZcy6DWu0

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 24, 2023

Trudeau, who thanked the EU for its help during Canada’s “worst wildfire season on record” over the summer, also announced the sale of several firefighting planes to Europe.

The EU leaders meanwhile raised the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), US President Joe Biden’s signature climate and social spending law passed last year.

The package provides some $370 billion in investments to combat climate change, mainly in the form of incentives and subsidies for projects in the United States.

European leaders have worried EU-based energy and auto companies will be shut out or move to the United States due to the IRA’s provisions requiring components to be sourced domestically or among Washington’s free-trade partners, such as Canada.

“We discussed the consequences for Canada, for the EU, of this IRA put in place by the United States,” Michel said.

He reiterated the need for the G7 to develop a competitive model based on a “level” playing field.

The last EU-Canada summit was held in Brussels in June 2021.

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