Saturday Jul 26, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
32o C
23o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
EU struggles to unite on ways to punish Russia beyond blacklist

European Union governments struggled to find ways of punishing Russia for annexing Crimea, reflecting east-west divisions within the EU and concerns that trade curbs would do self-inflicted damage to Europe’s economy.

It is unclear whether EU leaders will agree on a road map for economic sanctions at a two-day summit starting on Thursday in Brussels, five EU officials told reporters on Wednesday. A less controversial option would be to expand an existing blacklist of 21 Russian and Crimean officials, they said.

“The heterogeneity of EU member states’ interests raises doubts within the Kremlin about how determined the EU will actually be,” Georg Zachmann, a fellow at the Brussels-based Bruegel research group, said in a blog post.

Special trading relationships that several countries have with Russia, coupled with the economic fallout from Europe’s debt crisis, are frustrating a united response to the most serious threat to the European order since the Cold War.

Sanctions require the agreement of all 28 EU countries, a consensus-building process that cannot match Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speed in mobilizing troops in Crimea, staging the secession referendum and moving to annexation.

The need for EU unanimity gives leverage to countries like Cyprus, which is chafing at the terms imposed by European governments in exchange for a 10 billion-euro ($14 billion) bailout that ravaged the island’s economy, the third smallest in the 18-nation euro area.

Cyprus remains a haven for Russian investment as it tries to fix an economy that shrank 6 percent last year. Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told state-run RIK radio on Tuesday that Cyprus opposes further sanctions.

Whether fellow skeptics including Hungary and Bulgaria would endorse a ratcheting up of sanctions in exchange for financial compensation won’t become clear until the leaders assemble in Brussels tomorrow afternoon.

An agreement on economic sanctions “can’t realistically be expected,” Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said at a parliamentary committee meeting in Prague on Wednesday, according to the CTK news service.

At an emergency summit on March 6, the EU suspended trade and travel talks with Russia and paved the way to the imposition on March 17 of asset freezes and visa bans on 13 Russian and eight Crimean officials. The bloc also told Russia there would be “additional and far-reaching consequences for relations in a broad range of economic areas” unless it backed down. EU officials were not sure whether the leaders will view Putin’s takeover of Crimea as the trigger for more measures.

Germany, which dominated the debt crisis response, is also tugged between trade and energy links with Russia and calls by neighbors such as Poland and the Baltic states for a firmer response to aggression on the EU’s doorstep.

Germany relies on Russia for 35 percent of its oil and natural gas imports. About 6,200 German companies generate exports of 36 billion euros and imports of 40.4 billion euros in trade with Russia, according to the BGA exporters’ lobby.

EU economic retaliation must be carefully calibrated, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said on Tuesday. Austria buys about 55 percent of its gas from Russia, and Austrian banks Raiffeisen Bank International and UniCredit Bank Austria are among the biggest in Russia.

Business ties are good for “promoting peaceful development on both sides,” Faymann said.

EU leaders normally set broad strategy, lessening the likelihood that the summit will decide legally binding steps. While sanctions have made the most headlines, the EU will also sign the political provisions of a trade agreement with Ukraine and consider speeding up its economic assistance.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, on Wednesday proposed adding 1 billion euros to a previously approved 610 million euros in budget support for Ukraine. The European aid would accompany an International Monetary Fund package that is being negotiated.

[Bloomberg]

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday March 19, 2014 (14:49)  
MP steps in to get power back on at invalid’s home
Civil servants who changed contracts to undergo checks
Coalition hopes to avoid restoring armed forces wages in full
Italy adds to calls for FYROM name row to be solved
Trade deficit grows 9.5 pct in Jan-May
Greece’s trade deficit recorded a 9.5 percent increase in the January-May period this year compared with the first five months of 2013, data compiled by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (E...
Number of 5-star hotel rooms rises 31.4 percent in four years
The number of rooms at five-star hotels in Greece rose by 31.4 percent from 2009 to 2013, according to a survey conducted by the Research Institute for Tourism of the Hellenic Chamber of Hot...
Inside Business
SOCCER
Ranieri says he has little to change in Greek national team
The Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) presented Claudio Ranieri as the new Greece coach for the next couple of years, after the Italian manager signed his contract in Athens on Friday. “I l...
SOCCER
Olympiakos downs AC Milan 3-0 in friendly
Greek champion Olympiakos defeated Italy's AC Milan 3-0 late on Thursday in a friendly match that launched the International Champions Cup in Canada and the US. The result, with goals from A...
Inside Sports
TALK
What lessons can we draw from antiquity?
Our theme is limits. And we are gathered here at this limit of Europe, close the to sea: the limitless, the boundless. And we face all sorts of limits. There are the limits of knowledge – fa...
COMMENTARY
Forty years of shortsighted party policies
It is 40 years since the restoration of democracy, and the two main parties which were established in 1974 and determined the country’s fate since then are unable to act their age. For decad...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Trade deficit grows 9.5 pct in Jan-May
2. Number of 5-star hotel rooms rises 31.4 percent in four years
3. Greeks get slightly less downbeat
4. Banks reluctant to issue credit
5. MP steps in to get power back on at invalid’s home
6. Civil servants who changed contracts to undergo checks
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greek coast guard picks up 77 migrants off Myconos
2. Draghi safety net becoming blindfold as bonds soar
3. Godfather, 35, shot at Karditsa christening dies
4. Aegean Airlines resumes flights to Tel Aviv
5. Thousands of dead fish surface in Lake Pamvotis
6. Police report points to less crime in 2014
Today
This Week
1. Greece seen in third bailout as bonds not enough, economists say
2. Climber dies in Mount Olympus fall
3. Greek sovereign debt at 174.1 percent of GDP in first quarter
4. Unequal after death
5. Hedge fund Dromeus turns Greek tragedy to triumph with 160 pct gain
6. Quadriplegic woman on life support 'dies due to unpaid power bills'
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.