Thursday

7th Jul 2022

MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder

  • Gerhard Schröder is the chairman of the board of Nord Stream AG and of Rosneft (Photo: nord-stream2.com)
Listen to article

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Austria's ex-foreign minister Karin Kneissl came under fire on Thursday (19 May) — after the European Parliament urged EU countries to sanction them for their close Kremlin ties.

In the resolution, MEPs said Schröder should be blacklisted if he does not quit the board of Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft and not take a top job at Gazprom's board, which he was nominated for in February.

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

The non-bonding resolution also mentioned Kneissl, who was a minister under the government of Sebastian Kurz, and has danced with Russian president Vladimir Putin at her wedding.

MEPs urged the EU to "extend the list of individuals targeted by EU sanctions to the European members of the boards of major Russian companies and to politicians who continue to receive Russian money".

The resolution "notes that former politicians such as Esko Aho, Francois Fillon and Wolfgang Schüssel have recently resigned from their positions in Russian firms" and "strongly demands" that Kneissl and Schröder do the same.

The resolution, which passed on Thursday with 575 votes in favour and the support of the four biggest parties in the parliament, builds pressure on European politicians who have taken up key roles in Russian state companies.

However, it is up to the unanimous decision of the 27 EU governments to add people to the sanctions list.

Schröder headed the German government as a Social Democrat chancellor from 1998 to 2005, and has later worked for the pipeline company Nord Stream and Russia's Gazprom.

Kneissl works as a blogger for Russian Today, which has been banned in the EU, and sits on the supervisory board of Rosneft.

"By serving in top positions of Kremlin-affiliated corporations, the former Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl and former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder are de facto closely cooperating with Russia," centre-right German MEP Markus Ferber said.

"Such behaviour is unacceptable at a time when Russia is breaking international law and committing war crimes," Feber said, adding that MEPs ask the two politicians to step down.

Spanish liberal MEP Luis Garicano said it is "outrageous" that Gerhard Schröder continues to get paid for his position in Rosneft. "Being a former chancellor should not shield him from being sanctioned".

"Let's end this impunity," he added.

The MEPs call for sanctions follows a decision by the current Berlin government to cut back Schröder's perks he enjoys as ex-chancellor.

Liberal finance minister Christian Lindner said it was unthinkable that a former chancellor who is now "openly doing lobby work for the criminal rule of Vladimir Putin is still given an office by taxpayers," Deutsche Welle reported.

In an unapologetic interview with the New York Times, Schröder defended Putin, claiming that the orders to murder civilians in Bucha, around Kyiv, had not come from the Russian president, but from military commanders on the ground.

The resolution urges EU governments to extend the list of blacklisted individuals to include Russian oligarchs, taking into account the list of 6,000 individuals put together by the foundation of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who is currently held in a Russian prison camp.

MEPs also call for an extension of EU-sanctioned Russian-affiliated media entities operating in the EU, "specifically the GRU-affiliated 'news agency' InfoRos".

The EU has so far blacklisted 1,093 individuals and 80 entities because of the war on Ukraine.

EU Commission proposes Russian oil-ban in new sanctions

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said EU countries should phase out Russian crude oil imports within six months, and refined oil by the end of the year to minimise the impact on European economy and global supply.

Opinion

Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.

Opinion

If Russia collapses — which states will break away?

Increasingly, analysts — both inside and outside of Russia — are considering the possibility of the Russian Federation's collapse into a series of independent states. Who are the most likely candidates for secession in Russia's south, east, and centre?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Russia influence debate leads to MEP mudslinging
  2. Johnson quits, leaving Brexit headaches to successor
  3. Is Orban holding out an olive branch to EPP?
  4. EU should freeze all EU funds to Hungary, says study
  5. Legal action looms after MEPs back 'green' nuclear and gas
  6. EU readies for 'complete Russian gas cut-off', von der Leyen says
  7. Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response
  8. Keeping gas as 'green' in taxonomy vote only helps Russia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us