Welcome to EURACTIV’s Global Europe Brief, your weekly update on the EU from a global perspective.
In this week’s edition: The future of EU sanctions against Russia, plans for Gaza and the IE defense inquiry.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the EU has implemented 11 rounds of sanctions against Moscow, with measures covering all sectors and targeting some 1,800 individuals and entities.
The main aim of the new set of measures, proposed by the European Commission on Wednesday (15 November), is to step up the crackdown on the Kremlin’s ability to circumvent the bloc’s sanctions and fuel its war machine, as well as to restrict Russia’s ability to finance its activities. invasion of Ukraine.
EU officials have remained evasive on the reasons for the delay in the latest EU sanctions package against Russia, despite a public announcement from European Commission boss Ursula von der Leyen. in Kyiv two weeks ago.
Diamonds may be forever, but not when it comes to imports from Russia, which is the largest producer of rough diamonds mined from hundreds of mines beneath the Siberian permafrost.
While the option of including them has been discussed by EU member states for months, mainly with Belgium’s opposition to protecting its diamond capital Antwerp, the EU executive is proposing now to ban imports of Russian non-industrial natural and synthetic diamonds and diamond jewelry from Russia. early 2024.
The proposal calls for a ban on the import, purchase and transfer of diamonds transiting through Russia and Russian cut and polished diamonds in third countries, such as India. Add to this the gradual introduction – from March 1 to September 1 next year – of a ban on the import of Russian diamonds processed in third countries.
“This phased introduction of indirect import bans takes into consideration the need to deploy an appropriate traceability mechanism that enables effective enforcement measures and minimizes disruption for market participants,” says the text of the proposal seen by Euractiv .
The new package includes measures to better enforce who flees capping Russian oil prices and targeting the export of machine tools and machine parts that Moscow uses to produce weapons used in Ukraine.
Moscow imports machines from Europe intended to manufacture munitions. With winter coming and trench warfare likely to be more ferocious, the munitions battle could prove decisive in the outcome of the war.
Russia has been able to maintain its own munitions production while acquiring large stockpiles from third countries like North Korea, while Ukraine’s Western allies risks not respecting its commitments supply to Kyiv with enough artillery shells.
At the same time, the bloc is also drawing up plans to impose economic sanctions on third countries if they fail to comply with Western sanctions or cannot account for a sudden increase in trade in banned goods.
If approved, the proposals would also target 120 individuals and entities, including more than 30 companies added to a list of entities with which trade is restricted, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Singapore and several Russian machine-building companies .
But with the new package on the way, many are wondering: what’s left?
The laborious journey of the current proposal, discussed by EU ambassadors on Friday 17 November, shows that work on sanctions in Brussels is slowing down.
Despite continued pressure from sanctions hawks in Eastern Europe, Lithuania and Poland, it is increasingly unlikely that other member states will adhere to their maximalist proposals, which include Russia’s nuclear sector, gas liquefied petroleum (LPG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and steel. There is also a whole list of EU-made components that can be used in Russian military equipment.
EU officials and diplomats are also increasingly questioning whether calling future measures “packages” makes sense in the long term and are considering a transition to a “smoother” sanctions regime.
And there is growing frustration with the circumvention of Western sanctions against Russia by unscrupulous states and corporations.
The EU’s special envoy, David O’Sullivan, was appointed to ensure the application of European sanctions, but despite his trips to third countries, he lacks the means of pressure to convince them to align with the policies of the bloc.
European sanctions experts are increasingly emphasizing the need to move from implementation to enforcement of sanctions.
MAP OF GAZA | With Israeli forces now inside Gaza, around two weeks after the start of a ground operation aimed at destroying the Islamist movement Hamas, EU foreign ministers have begun to consider what could look like the future. after the end of the fighting.
Israel, the United States and Hamas could have reached an agreement in principle free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day break in the fighting.
ACP RETAINED | The EU this week finally reached an agreement on a new treaty that will govern relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Community (ACP), but the refusal of 35 of the 79 ACP states to sign it cast a shadow over his merits.
SUMMIT G-20-LED | Leaders from more than a dozen African countries are heading to Germany for the G20 Compact with Africa conference, which aims to help support private investments on the world’s poorest but rapidly growing continent.
BUDDY-ING PESC | Representatives from the Western Balkans should join their EU counterparts more regularly for meetings to better align themselves with the bloc’s common foreign and security policy, according to a non-paper on “deeper cooperation” with the region. produced by a group of EU countries and seen by EURACTIV.
DEFENSE INVESTIGATION | The European Ombudsman this week asked the bloc’s executive to provide guarantees of independence for experts assessing industry proposals for the European Defense Fund, in another blow to EU transparency in defense industry policy.
FRENCH PRESENCE | France we must intensify its personnel presence and its participation in innovation programs within NATO allow Paris to benefit from its membership and its financial contribution to the military alliance, warns a report from the country’s Court of Auditors.