EU studying modifying sanctions if they affect food, fertilizer shipments

Santander, Spain, Jul 25 (EFE).- The European Union’s top official for foreign policy, Spain’s Josep Borrell, said Monday that the sanctions on Russia “are not to blame for the high food or fertilizer prices,” although the bloc is open to modifying them if any are having an “indirect effect” on those markets.

Given the sanctions, there are economic actors who are “overreacting,” said the Spaniard during a lecture at the Menendez Pelayo International University (UIMP) in Santander, Spain.

“Being able to do something that’s not prohibited, they’re not doing it out of fear of having problems,” he said, adding to the foreign ministers of African countries that the EU sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine “are not making their imports of wheat or fertilizers more difficult.”

“If there’s some phenomenon that’s impacting those Russian exports, of course we’re going to study it and we’re going to eliminate it,” he said.

The EU’s top foreign policy official warned that the “Russian narrative” is an attempt “to present to the world” that the European sanctions are causing the high prices of food and energy, but he insisted that the sanctions proposed by the EU “expressly exclude food and fertilizers.”

“We can’t let (Russia) put the blame on the sanctions, but if such things are happening that could have indirect effects, there’s not doubt that we’re going to monitor it and to warn the operators so that such things don’t occur,” Borrell reiterated.

In that regard, he said that the sanctions on Russia have not had repercussions on the price of energy and added that, since they were implemented, the price “has done nothing but go down.”

The price of energy “remains high” because it rose in January, before the Kremlin launched the war on Feb. 24, he said.

In addition, Borrell said that the sanctions “are certainly having an effect,” although “not (an) immediate (one),” despite the “voices that diverge” from those policies, and Russia “is going to see itself affected” in its “most critical” sectors, such as technology.

“They’re not going to result in the war ending tomorrow,” the diplomat acknowledged, but “you have to keep putting pressure” on the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt the invasion and other military actions.

Borrell was participating in the course entitled “Latin America and the European Union: Democracy, Development and Renewal of the Social Contract – Challenges for the Spanish Presidency of the EU 2023,” and in his remarks acknowledged that Europe must pay “more attention” to Latin America.

“We have to put our cards on the table,” he said, lamenting the fact that the “strength as an investor” enjoyed by Spain and other European countries has not translated into “an investment in political relations” in the Latin American sphere.

Thus, he said that Spain’s rotating presidency of the EU during the second half of 2023 can be a “great opportunity” to support the region, given that other European partners have “priorities” in other parts of the world.

Along those lines, before Spain assumes the EU presidency, he called for the EU to unblock the trade agreements with Chile, Mexico and Mercosur, which he said were “in the freezer.”

“If Europe is unable to unblock those trade agreements, frankly, I think that we lose a great deal of credibility,” he warned.

EFE pac/pgh/jlg/jl/mah/bp

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