Good morning and welcome to Europe Express.
The Russia sanctions marathon continues. After two days of meetings, EU ambassadors last night approved the fifth package, which is due to be published in the Official Journal later today. We’ll explore why some EU officials expect the oil embargo to be a matter of time and what form it might take.
Beyond sanctions, EU foreign ministers on Monday are set to discuss the bloc’s so-called Global Gateway strategy (initially geared towards counterbalancing Chinese investments in Africa). I’ll bring you up to speed with why some capitals are expected to call for a policy pivot, countering Russian influence in eastern Europe and Central Asia.
And with the first round of the French elections coming up this Sunday, we’ll look at how Marine Le Pen is channeling Brexit slogans in her bid to win the presidency.
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Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, said yesterday that it is now more a question of when, rather than if, the EU imposes a blockade on Russian oil, writes Sam Fleming in Brussels.
The topic will be on the table for debate at Monday’s foreign affairs council meeting, Borrell said, adding: “Sooner or later — I hope sooner — it will happen.”
Preparations for an oil ban, potentially as part of a sixth package of EU sanctions, reflect a marked hardening in the mood among member states, driven by the reports of atrocities committed by Russian troops in Bucha and other areas that were under occupation.
Political pressure for action is only mounting. In a symbolic vote, the European Parliament yesterday backed by a large majority an immediate full embargo on Russian oil, coal, gas and — in a potential sign of things to come — nuclear fuel.
But the devil of any new sanctions on oil will inevitably be in the detail. The coal ban that the…
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