MEPs want EU countries to step up pressure on Lebanon

A majority of MEPs supported the imposition of sanctions against the new government in Lebanon.

The ballot took place even before Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government was approved by a vote of confidence from parliament in Beirut.

The devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut last year changed the political landscape in Lebanon.

Charges of corruption and lack of transparency were brought against the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati before he came to power.

Christophe Grudler, a French MEP, was instrumental in the resolution of sanctions by the European Parliament.

“We have to be very quick,” he told Euronews. “We are calling for strong sanctions now because if there are strong sanctions it will be easier for the government or other parts of society in Lebanon to be held accountable.”

Inflation in Lebanon was almost 85% last year and products are four times more expensive than two years ago.

But the new government has revived discussions on a loan from the International Monetary Fund of nearly one billion euros – their predecessors had accepted it.

The EU foreign policy chief has created a framework for targeted EU sanctions – Josep Borell called it a self-inflicted crisis and called on officials to take responsibility.

Any sanction would require the approval of all 27 EU member countries and this seems highly unlikely.

Imposing sanctions is not that popular in EU capitals.

Julien Barnes-Dacey, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Euronews: “Most Europeans are now going to give this government some time.

“They are going to give the Lebanese the benefit of the doubt and see if they can actually implement the reforms needed to secure this IMF loan and if they can, I think they will suspend the sanctions.”

He believes that the European demands are much lower than they were six months ago, which were “radical reforms rather than a semi-functional government”.

It is widely believed that Lebanon will need a lot more money than even the IMF loan can provide to bring its economy back to stability.

Speaking exclusively to Euronews, Axel van Trotsenburg, Managing Director of the World Bank, said: “What we are asking is that the government must come together and develop a plan that serves the Lebanese people and not specialized interests “.

“We have to take care that there is a credible plan. It has to be transparent. We have to focus heavily on corruption because unfortunately there has been a lot of corruption in the country which ultimately harmed the vast majority of population.”

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