The European Commission is working on broadening its legal instruments that would enable the introduction of personal sanctions against human rights violators in different countries, counting Russia among them. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced plans to adopt Europe’s version of the Magnitsky Act and suggested adjusting the mechanism for approving sanctions in such a way that does not require the support of all EU member states. According to Kommersant, this amendment, if adopted, will no longer allow Moscow to count on friendly European countries that have called on EU allies not to impose tough sanctions on Russia.
According to von der Leyen, the proposals for a European ‘Magnitsky Act’ will be ready soon. She explained that the European Union should be able to respond clearly and quickly to what is happening anywhere, whether it is in Hong Kong, Moscow, or Minsk.
Stefan Meister, an EU-Russia relations guru at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), does not believe that the European Union will be able to agree on an extensive package of sanctions against Russia soon. Rather, an agreement on a blacklist similar to the ‘Magnitsky list’ can be expected. According to the expert, regarding the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Germany and the EU would rather allow the project to be implemented in full, and then introduce some measures to restrict or prohibit transportation of gas through the pipeline.
“With the crises around Navalny and Lukashenko unfolding, the freezing of Nord Stream 2 seems to be in the cards. Nevertheless, we are not talking about a complete breakdown of relations. Even during the Cold War, economic ties between the USSR and the West were not completely severed,” Head of the European Political Studies Department at the Institute for World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) Nadezhda Arbatova told Kommersant. “Today’s confrontation between Russia and the West is a struggle of ideology and real politics. Minimal interaction will be maintained, but this will not change the quality of relations between Russia and the EU,” she added.