Sunday

25th Feb 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

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According to Nato: “Russia has not withdrawn its troops or its equipment" and there's "a real risk of a resumption of violence."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

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Latest News

  1. EU rewards Tusk's Poland on rule of law with €137bn
  2. UK-EU relations defrosting ahead of near-certain Labour win
  3. EU paid Russia €420-per-capita for fossil fuels since war began
  4. After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports
  5. Creating the conditions for just peace in Ukraine
  6. Energy and minerals disputes overshadow new EU-ACP pact
  7. Germany speeds up Georgia and Morocco asylum returns
  8. How Amazon lobbyists could be banned from EU Parliament

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us