EU member states would contemplate energy sanctions on Russia among the latest package of potential penalties over the Ukraine invasion, a top European Commission official said on Tuesday.
Valdis Dombrovskis, commission executive vice-president, said penalties targeting Russian oil and coal were “definitely an option” as far as the commission was concerned, but that it would be necessary to reach a consensus among member states. Some capitals have expressed scepticism over the idea.
“There are discussions on what can be done in the area of energy, like coal and oil,” said Dombrovskis as he arrived at a meeting of finance ministers in Luxembourg. “What is important in this situation is that we are coming forward with a strong and credible sanctions package” .
Also arriving at the meeting, Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, reiterated that France was open to measures against coal and oil, while underlining that it was critical to preserve the unity of the 27 member states on sanctions.
“I think there is a total determination of all 27 member states to reinforce sanctions, and that is the key point,” he said.
Finance ministers are holding talks ahead of a meeting of EU ambassadors tomorrow in Brussels to discuss the fifth package of sanctions following Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour on February 24. While some member states want to target Russia’s energy sector, others including Germany and Austria have warned against a sudden decision to cut off imports.
The EU is not currently discussing slashing Russian gas imports, but officials appear more open to discussing oil or especially coal. Among the other penalties on the table are restrictions on other types of exports to Russia, including high-tech components, fresh listings of individuals linked to the Kremlin, and the closing of loopholes in the existing rounds of measures.
Pressure for new sanctions has increased following claims that Russian forces have committed atrocities against civilians around Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. Russia has dismissed the claims as fabrications.
Finance ministers are planning to discuss sanctions on Tuesday morning, as well as holding talks with Ukraine’s finance minister via video link.
They will also attempt to reach a consensus on the EU implementation of a minimum effective corporate tax rate after a global OECD deal reached last year.