Monday, April 4, 2022

The EC presents proposals that in fact ease the EU's sanctions against Russia

 Despite the introduction of new, painful EU sanctions against Russia announced by the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the EC's proposal presented to EU ambassadors over the weekend is cosmetic and de facto eases the existing restrictions.

Member States' consultations took place in Brussels over the weekend, during which the Commission presented an outline of proposals for new sanctions against Russia. This proposal, which was supposed to be painful for the Kremlin, was announced by von der Leyen on February 24.

Some countries, including Poland, expressed disappointment with the new proposal, including the scale of the planned abrogation from sanctions and restrictions, which were described as "cosmetic." For example, the European Commission did not propose that sanctions be imposed on the energy sector, including oil, gas, coal, and transport.

"The proposal contains a number of provisions concerning the exclusion of certain economic areas from the sanctions. For example, the European Commission proposes to remove luxury car spare parts from the sanctioned list. The derogations are also to apply to, inter alia, luxury products, space cooperation with Russia or supplies of fuel to nuclear power plants. The proposal also provides for the release of Serbia, a candidate country to the EU, from the necessity to join EU sanctions. We will not agree to it," the EU diplomat told Polish Press Agency (PAP).

"The European Commission proposes, for example, that the EU will ban the export of aviation fuel to Russia, but Russia does not import aviation fuel from the EU. The Commission is also proposing to exclude Russian entities from tenders, but except for cooperation in the field of nuclear and space energy. It is also proposing additional sanctions prohibiting the import of wood, fish, and sea products, but in a situation where Russia continues its aggression against Ukraine and civilians are still dying, such provisions are negligible - adds an EU diplomat.

The sanctions introduced by the European Union so far are simply weak. Russia's economic situation has stabilized, and the ruble exchange rate has stabilized. The Moscow Stock Exchange is working and recording increases. The Russian central bank is loosening the restrictions imposed on external financial transfers. Gazprom records record profits from the sale of raw materials, receiving over EUR 900 million a day in sales. 

According to PAP sources, among the EU countries, the primary opponent of tightening sanctions is Germany, which argues that too strong EU restrictions will hit the German economy. Skeptical of the tightening of restrictions is also Italy.

A draft of new restrictions is due to be presented this week.