Irish MEP criticises EU sanctions on Russia
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Nile Gardiner, a self-described foreign policy analyst and director of the Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom, also accused the bloc of pursuing “vindictive campaigns against Poland”, one of its member states. Meanwhile, he praised “British leadership in Europe”, with the UK being the most strident advocate for Ukraine in the region.
The EU has been criticised for its response to the crisis unfolding on its doorstep during two months of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Previous reports have suggested member states have attempted to water down sanctions against Russia to protect their own country’s economic interests.
Detractors have also said that the EU’s sanctions do not go far enough in limiting the Russian economy, noting the bloc’s heavy reliance on Russian fossil fuels.
The EU is estimated to import around 40 percent of its gas and 27 percent of its oil from Russia, with Germany being one of several nations whose economy is heavily reliant on the steady supply of fuel.
Whereas the UK Government pledged in March to phase out Russian gas by the end of 2022, the EU is aiming to be independent of Russian fossil fuels before the end of the decade.
At the same time, the economic union was blasted for handing over the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pounds to Russia every day for fossil fuels – much of which is in the hands of state-owned companies.
According to Brussels-based NGO Transport & Environment, the EU has been spending about $118 million (£89.7 million) a day on natural gas from Russia, and $285 million (£217 million) on oil.
Together, that amounts to roughly €365 million (£306 million) per day – though that amount may have decreased since the war began.
Speaking today (Monday April 25), Mr Gardiner said the EU’s “big powers kowtow to Moscow” and “fund Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.
He added: “The heart of the European Project is rotten to the core, in Brussels, Berlin and Paris.”
The bloc was previously criticised for having become reliant on an aggressive country for its energy supply last year, amid a global shortage.
At the time, Putin was accused by European leaders of artificially manipulating supply to the EU to drive up prices.
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The EU’s hesitancy towards sanctioning Russian fossil fuels has been attributed to the economic concerns of Germany, and its Chancellor, Olaf Scholz.
Earlier this month, the leader of the country’s new coalition Government suggested Germany may be able to wean itself off Russian gas by the end of the year.
While visiting the UK, Boris Johnson told a press conference that he believed Germany would stop using Russian gas “by the middle of 2024”.
However, when asked if he supported that timetable, Mr Scholz responded: “We are optimistic that we will get rid of the need of importing gas from Russia very soon.”
One thing that critics of the EU have not failed to notice is that while the bloc is sending large amounts to Russia every day, they are at the same time withholding funding from the member state which has taken on the most Ukrainian refugees.
Poland has been locked in dispute with the European Commission since last year over the primacy of EU law in the country.
As well as using a new mechanism to withhold pandemic recovery funding from the country, the EU also fined Poland a million euros a day for every day it failed to comply with the bloc’s wishes.
Mr Gardiner, a former aide to Mrs Thatcher, accused the EU of pursuing “vindictive campaigns against Poland”.
He added: “Thank God for Brexit and British leadership in Europe.”
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