28th Oct 2016


Russia sanctions to dominate this WEEK

Possible EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine are set to dominate this week's agenda as heads of state and government gather in Brussels to discuss the implications of the referendum in Crimea.

The EU leaders plan to piece together a response to the unfolding crisis in Ukraine over dinner on Thursday evening (21 March) at the Brussels summit.

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  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (l): EU leaders are set to tackle Russia's military occupation of Crimea (Photo:

But their reaction will depend in part on the discussions held by EU foreign ministers on Monday.

The foreign ministers are set to discuss the names of the elite circle of Russians implicated in the Crimea military takeover in late February.

Their names could be added to an EU blacklist. This means they would not be able to travel to the EU and their assets would be frozen.

How Russia reacts to the referendum is also set to play a decisive role in the EU response, which could include economic sanctions on Russian energy firms and banks if the situation escalates.

The US, for its part, announced "severe consequences" should Russia decide to annex the peninsula.

The European Commission also has a role.

It is set to lay out its macro-financial assistance plans to Ukraine. The bloc's economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn will present the €1.6 billion package on Wednesday.

“In very simple terms, this is a direct injection into the Ukrainian budget,” said an EU source.

Meanwhile, summit leaders will tackle issues other than Ukraine as well.

Thursday afternoon will be devoted to finalising the draft conclusions on climate and energy, industry, job competiveness, and growth with follow-up discussions on Friday.

Relations with Africa will also be discussed ahead of the fourth EU-Africa summit in early April.

EU ministers in the general affairs council on Tuesday will put the draft conclusions together.

Leaked draft conclusions seen by this website suggest the EU will submit its plan on a global climate deal by early 2015 ahead of the climate summit in Paris.

It notes the new EU target for greenhouse gas emission reductions will be in line with the agreed EU objective for 2050.

The European Parliament, for its part, will focus on the single resolution system for winding down failing banks and the upcoming review of bank assets by the European Central Bank.

French finance minister Pierre Moscovici on Monday is scheduled to speak on the issue with the MEPs on the parliament’s economic affairs committee.

On Tuesday, the committee will see internal market commissioner Michel Barnier and ECB supervisory board chair, Michelle Nouy.

Mid-week the European Commission will also deliver its visa package.

The proposal aims to make it easier for people to obtain Schengen visas. A new visa that allows people to stay more than 90 days in the EU will also be presented.

Belgium breaks Ceta deadlock

[Updated] Belgian leaders signed a joint declaration, clearing the way for the government to sign the EU-Canada trade pact. Wallonia's leader Paul Magnette said it was a victory for his people, and the rest of Europe.

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