Sunday

26th Sep 2021

Italy delays EU decision on Russia sanctions

  • Renzi (l) often meets Putin despite the Ukraine conflict (Photo: kremlin.ru)

EU Council officials had drafted the legal act. EU capitals had given the nod. The scene was set for ambassadors, in Brussels on Wednesday (9 December), to extend, without further ado, the EU’s economic sanctions on Russia for six months.

Then Italy said No.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

An EU source familiar with Rome’s position told EUobserver: “[They’re] not blocking anything. [They] say the issue deserves a political discussion. There’s no objection in principle. But the issue deserves at least five minutes of discussion, whether in the European Council, or in another format.”

For its part, the Luxembourg EU presidency has not decided whether to call the debate at an ambassadors meeting on Thursday, an EU foreign ministers event on Monday, or the EU summit next Thursday.

But a second EU source said: “I think Italy wants to do it at the summit.”

A third source said Rome sent its instructions late on Tuesday and that its own diplomats in the EU capital are “sort of confused.”

“No one can understand what there is to discuss … But I heard the Italians are not happy about procedure. That we shouldn’t move so quickly on such an important topic, without consultations. It’s really strange.”

For his part, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has in the past criticised the EU sanctions.

He’s part of a group of Russia-friendly leaders, including the Cypriot president, the Czech president, the Greek PM, the Hungarian PM, and the Slovak PM who often meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

But Renzi, in a huddle with British, German, and US leaders, as well as the French foreign minister, at a G20 event last month personally backed the Russia extension.

Meanwhile, the other friends of Russia are toeing the EU line: that sanctions stay in place until Russia fulfills the “Minsk” ceasefire accord.

The accord says “all foreign armed formations” must leave Ukraine and that Ukraine must get back “control of the state border” with Russia.

According to Nato: “Russia has not withdrawn its troops or its equipment" and there's "a real risk of a resumption of violence."

According to a UN report, published on Wednesday: "There remains ... an inflow of ammunition, weaponry, and fighters from the Russian Federation into the territories controlled by the armed groups, leaving the situation highly flammable."

A fifth EU source said: “Minsk is not being implemented, especially not by Russia. The consensus [on sanctions renewal] is not at risk. But for now, it is 27 [member states] versus Italy."

“My guess is, it will be sorted out behind the scenes.”

Opinion

Ukraine: Notes from a European construction site

Ukraine today resembles a giant construction site. Many of its achievements are unseen. Many still left to build. But its people deserve Europe's support, writes its ambassador to the EU.

Opinion

Russia, IS: EU values under attack

If the EU doesn't support the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom it not only betrays their belief in us, but the very values the EU is meant to uphold.

News in Brief

  1. Italy arrests Puigdemont on Spanish warrant
  2. EU and US hold trade talks despite French wrath
  3. EMA to decide on Pfizer vaccine booster in October
  4. EU welcomes Polish TV-station move
  5. Ukrainian parliament passes law to curb power of oligarchs
  6. EU could force Poland to pay lignite-coal fine
  7. Report: EU and US concerned by tech-giants' power
  8. EU states sign 'transparency pledge'

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border
  2. EU unveils common charger plan - forcing Apple redesign
  3. Central Europe leaders rail against 'new liberal woke virus'
  4. Yemen's refugees in 'appalling conditions', says UN agency
  5. VW emissions software was illegal, top EU lawyer says
  6. Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president
  7. More French names linked to Russia election-monitoring
  8. Negotiations set for new, tougher, EU ethics body

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us