Europeans decide on embargo on Russian coal

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at the European Council meeting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, 6 April 2022.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen did not want to arrive empty-handed in Kiev on Friday, April 8, where she was to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “By a Lucky Coincidence”According to a diplomat, information was leaked on Thursday according to which the community administration would give its opinion in June on the admissibility of Kiev’s application to join the European Union (EU). It is clear that the Commission will then decide whether or not Ukraine can be an official candidate.

Where it usually takes between 15 and 18 months, this time, if the Commission sticks to this timetable, it has taken just 90 days and sent a political signal to Ukraine that its case deserves preferential treatment. In reality, this step will only lead to a procedure that will take years and in which the country will have to adapt to European standards.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers War in Ukraine: Europeans ready for embargo on Russian coal

More specifically, Ursula von der Leyen of the Ukrainian president will be able to demand the fifth package of sanctions that the Twenty-seven passed unanimously on Thursday evening. Firstly, they decided on an embargo on Russian coal, a politically symbolic measure because it is the first in the field of energy and because it was unthinkable two weeks ago. But this “Won’t really weaken the Russian economy”Judge Simone Tagliapietra, of the Belgian think tank Bruegel. “Europeans pay 15 million euros a day to buy Russian coal. For Russian gas and oil that is 850 million”argues the researcher.

Member States have also decided to attack the Russian financial sector by terminating transactions with four of its major banks. They will also bar Russian ships (except those carrying agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid and energy) from entering EU ports and closing their borders to Russian and Belarusian trucks.

Delicate exercise

To weaken the industrial base, Europeans will no longer export certain strategic goods to Russia, such as quantum computers or semiconductors. In this way they deprive themselves of 10 billion euros in annual revenue, or slightly more than 10% of their exports to Russia. The Twenty-seven had already stopped selling their luxury goods there (3.5 billion a year).

As for the purchases of Russian goods, things are less straightforward, as Europeans have increased their dependence on Moscow. While they spent 159 billion euros on imports from Russia in 2021, they decided on Thursday to stop buying wood, cement, caviar and vodka (for 5.5 billion euros a year). In recent weeks, they had also stopped importing certain steel products at an annual cost of $3.3 billion.

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