Tuesday

7th Jul 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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According to Nato: “Russia has not withdrawn its troops or its equipment" and there's "a real risk of a resumption of violence."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

New Cairo activist case prompts wave of Italy demos

Four years after the killing of an Italian activist in Cairo, Italian cities are mobilising to highlight the fate of Patrick Zaki, imprisoned since February for "inciting protest through his Facebook profile".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video
  2. Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss
  3. Belarus: Inside Lukashenko’s crackdown on independent voices
  4. The rationale behind US troop withdrawals from Germany
  5. Podcast: Nordic region speaks out on big global challenges
  6. Croatia re-elects PM amid corona downturn
  7. Budget talks shift gear This WEEK
  8. Cardinals speak out: EU needs corporate due diligence

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us