Brussels (Brussels Morning) EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to prepare a framework for imposing sanctions on members of Lebanon’s political elites, in an effort to pressure them into resolving the country’s ongoing government crisis.
Speaking after Monday’s meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said it seemed as though Europeans were more concerned about finding a political solution for Lebanon’s woes than the Lebanese politicians themselves.
Borrell emphasised that the political stalemate, which has resulted in an ineffective caretaker government, still persists. The country’s economy is imploding, he noted, while the suffering of the Lebanese people grows by the day. The EU position is that the people of Lebanon need to have a government that will prevent the breakdown of the country, implement reforms and protect its citizenry.
The 27 EU ministers reached an understanding that the Union should establish a sanctions regime against those Lebanese politicians responsible for the stalemate. The framework for the sanctions is expected to be completed by the end of July.
Talking to the press after the meeting, France’s Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, emphasised that Lebanon has been in “self-destruct mode” for several months now, creating a major emergency for a population that is in distress. Le Drian also confirmed that the 27 ministers had achieved a consensus that sanctions were essential.
The proposed framework for sanctions would likely include criteria for their targets. These would cover corruption, obstruction of efforts to form government, financial mishandling, human rights abuses and the like. Targeted politicians would most likely have their assets within the EU seized, and would also be barred from entering the Union – a credible threat to a political class whose children regularly study in Europe, and who have significant assets stacked away from the country they rule.