PARIS, July 12 (Reuters) – The European Union said Monday it wanted to agree the legal framework for a sanctions regime against Lebanese leaders by the end of July, but warned that the measure would not be implemented immediately.
Led by France, the EU seeks to put pressure on Lebanon’s bickering politicians after an 11-month crisis that left Lebanon facing financial collapse, hyperinflation, power outages, and fuel and food shortages.
The move is part of broader international efforts to force a stable government capable of decisive reforms emerging from nearly a year of political chaos and economic collapse following an explosion in the port of Beirut.
“I can say that the goal is to complete this by the end of the month. I am not talking about the implementation of the regime, only about building the regime on a solid legal basis,” said the head of EU foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, to reporters in Brussels.
Almost a year after the August 4th explosion that killed more than 200 people, injured thousands and devastated parts of the capital, Lebanon is still ruled by a transitional government.
“Lebanon has been in self-destruction mode for several months,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Brussels. “Now there is a major emergency for a population in need.”
The EU must first put in place a regime of sanctions which could then result in people being subject to travel bans and asset freezes, although it may also decide not to list anyone immediately.
Le Drian said there was now a consensus among the bloc’s 27 nations on a regime.
Criteria for EU sanctions such as travel bans and asset freezes for Lebanese politicians are likely to include corruption, obstructing the formation of a government, financial offenses and human rights violations, according to a diplomatic note from Reuters. Continue reading
Reporting by Richard Lough and John Irish; Writing by Michel Rose and John Irish; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Marguerita Choy
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