EU mulling ‘range of actions’ on Venezuela
Brussels, Belgium - The European Union is discussing a ‘whole range of actions’ against Venezuela over its political crisis but is likely to stop short of sanctions, officials and sources said on Wednesday.
Spain and the head of the European Parliament have both pressed for sanctions following a controversial election that critics say is a bid by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to stay in power, and the arrest of two opposition leaders.
The United States earlier this week hit Maduro with sanctions, and diplomats from the 28 EU nations were meeting with EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels to discuss the bloc’s course of action.
“Consultations with member states are ongoing to ensure an appropriate and coordinated response by the EU. Obviously the whole range of actions are discussed,” said Catherine Ray, Mogherini's spokeswoman, when asked if sanctions were on the table.
“But our priority is the urgent relief of the Venezuelan people and de-escalation of the tensions. We promote a political solution to the crisis and we are ready to further support ongoing regional mediation efforts,” Ray told a daily briefing.
There was opposition from some EU states to any kind of sanctions, which would scupper them as sanctions must be approved unanimously, diplomatic sources said.
The 28 EU countries are now working on a common declaration that is expected to be published later.
“The declaration is supposed to mention ‘other measures’. But no talk so far on sanctions,” a European source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Consultations with member states are ongoing to ensure an appropriate response by the EU
Omar Estacio, lawyer for Antonio Ledezma, talks to the press outside the Supreme Court building, in Caracas on Tuesday