Tuesday

12th Nov 2019

EU oil ban to cost Assad €9 million a day

  • Oil tanks near the Syria-Iraq border decorated with pictures of past and present Syrian leaders (Photo: Richard Messenger)

EU countries have adopted a blanket ban on import of oil products from Syria, in a move set to cost the regime almost €9 million per day.

The package of sanctions - which also includes blacklisting four more Syrian officials and three companies - will legally enter into force on Saturday (3 September). But the oil ban is post-dated to take effect from 15 November after Italy said most EU firms have pre-paid Syria for contracts up to 30 November.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

EU countries - chiefly France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands - are currently importing around 110,000 barrels a day of Syrian heavy crude.

The grade sells at a small discount to the benchmark Brent crude quality due to its high sulphur content. But at today's prices, the EU ban amounts to some €8.7 million a day in lost income for President Bashar Assad's regime.

"In view of the gravity of the situation in Syria, the council today further tightened the EU's sanctions against that country ... The prohibition concerns purchase, import and transport of oil and other petroleum products from Syria. No financial or insurance services may be provided for such transactions," the EU diplomatic service said in a communique on Friday.

The move comes after the EU and US two weeks ago called on Assad to step down amid reports of atrocities against protesters.

"EU ban on import of oil from Syria will truly bite. Third of hard currency earnings of country. We are serious," Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt tweeted from an informal meeting of EU heads of diplomacy in Poland on Friday.

Italian foreign ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari earlier this week told EUobserver: "I wouldn't talk about 'regime change.' We said Assad has lost legitimacy in the eyes of Syrian people and he should accept that. This is our position, but it's not 'regime change'. Regime change means it is brought about from the outside. This is something that the Syrian population, which has been the victim of violent repression, something they want."

Assad's main ally, Iran, has also begun to back away in a development which could hasten his fall more quickly than any EU sanctions.

Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi last weekend said Syrian protesters have "legitimate demands." Iranian MP Ahmad Avaei said on Friday in the state-run Fars News Agency: "Supporting the Syrian rulers at any cost was not right, as those who staged the protests were Muslims, and their protests were legitimate."

For its part, Russia, another long-term ally of Syria is continuing to stick by its side.

Russia's Nato minister Dmitry Rogozin in an interview with this website on Thursday said Moscow will not back EU-drafted UN sanctions against President Assad in case the move leads to Nato bombs "dropping on Damascus" as they did on Libya.

He also endorsed the Assad line that Muslim radicals have infiltrated protests and killed scores of security officers.

"We think they are Islamists, but still I don't think anybody has air-dropped them," Rogozin said, describing the alleged insurgents as a home-grown peril along the lines of radical Muslims in Russia's north Caucasus.

He noted that "hundreds" of Syrian security personnel have been killed and "thousands" injured over the past five months. "Nobody speaks about this," he said.

France calls Libya victory summit, warns Syria

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called a high-level meeting on Libya's post-Gaddafi future and promised support - but no military action - for opposition forces in Syria.

US and EU call for Syrian leader to go

EU countries will on Friday discuss top-up sanctions against Syria after the White House and leading European countries said President Bashar Assad must relinquish power.

Italy defends bid to delay EU oil ban on Syria

Italy has said that delaying the EU oil embargo on Syria will not make any difference to the regime. But fellow member states believe "there is not a day to lose".

EU sanctions not as tough as they sound

The EU is to add some 160 names to its Belarus and Syria blacklists later this month. But being put under an EU ban is not as categorical as it sounds.

Bosnia wants explanation for Macron's 'time-bomb' remark

Bosnia requested an interview with the French ambassador to Sarajevo, after Emmanuel Macron described the country as a "ticking time bomb" and one of the greatest concerns for Europe due to the "problem of returning jihadists".

News in Brief

  1. Belgian asylum centre set on fire
  2. Xi Jingping in Athens promises new investment
  3. Farage's Brexit Party will not stand in Tory-held seats
  4. British founder of Syrian 'White Helmets' found dead
  5. Eight member states ask for EU aviation tax
  6. EU allocates €55m humanitarian aid to Sudan
  7. EU's climate contribution exceeds €20bn annually
  8. EU-Singapore trade deal enters into force this month

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Analysis

How should the EU handle Russia now?

Should West help Russian opposition in its struggle against the regime, or make new deals with Putin, as France is keen to do?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. What does Macron really want on Western Balkans?
  2. Far-right Vox celebrates, as Spain left without majority
  3. EU 'climate bank' won't rule out carbon capture
  4. New hearings for the von der Leyen commission This WEEK
  5. Bosnia wants explanation for Macron's 'time-bomb' remark
  6. MEPs slam Commission over common charger delay
  7. Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more
  8. Cleaning up both the EU and Western Balkans

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us