The European Commission has raised concerns over the proposed U.S. sanctions against Russia. The bill, tightening sanctions against Russia, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The bill needs to pass the Senate and then be signed into law by President Donald Trump. The White House earlier said that Trump supports the sanctions, but that he is still reviewing the legislation.
“While the president supports tough sanctions on North Korea, Iran and Russia, the White House is reviewing the House legislation and awaits a final legislative package for the president’s desk,” said spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
As it seems increasingly likely that Trump will sign the legislation, the EU is concerned that new sanctions against Russia will damage the bloc’s energy independence and transatlantic relations.
“Perhaps this is too heavy handed and the imposition of the American will and the American declaration that it is the policy of the US to oppose North Stream 2 this will offend Europe.
“Europe needs to solve Nord Stream 2 on its own, it’s controversial here, and for the US to put such a heavy handed comment on it, really, it’s not a good sign for transatlantic relations”, German Marshall Fund analyst Kristine Berzina said and adding that: “Brussels does not need to retaliate against anything yet. We are still at the moment for diplomatic relations and for conversation against the Atlantic”.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement: “The EU is fully committed to the Russia sanctions regime”, but concerns remain over how the current bill could affect the Nord Stream project, and the Baltic Liquefied Natural Gas project, as cited by Euronews.
The EU’s concerns do not end there. The broadening sanctions against Russia are a cause of disquiet in several European capitals. Many European countries remain highly critical of U.S. and EU sanctions against Russia, which directly hurt their economic interests, mainly in the energy sphere, but also in the food sector.
Germany and Austria were especially vocal in their criticism of new U.S. sanctions against Russia.
“Sanctions against Russia should not become a tool of industrial policy in US interests”, said German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer.
Austrian Chancellor Kristian Kern was even more blunt: “I think the US sanctions are absolutely unacceptable. You can’t mix up political and economic interests, at the expense of European jobs.”
German business lobby, representing the interests of companies hurt by anti-Russian sanctions, urged European authorities to address the new round of anti-Russian sanctions.
The European Commission now must make efforts to shed light on the current situation, as well as resist the exterritorial effect of new US penalties. We get the impression the US pursues their own economiс interests.
If German firms are banned from participating in gas pipeline enterprises, very important projects in the energy supply security sector can be halted. In that case, the German economy will be discernibly influenced.
Volker Treier, chief economist at the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) told in an interview with TASS.
Caught between its own problems and deteriorating U.S.-Russia relations which put an increasing strain on its economic and political interests, the EU may be forced to seek a new approach, perhaps independently of its transatlantic ally.