Germany to seek tougher line on Russia, end of foreign policy vetoes in EU

  • Petr Boháček
  • 16.4.2018 15:03

New German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) criticised Russia for cyber attacks and revisionist foreign policy during a 15 April interview in which he signalled to seek a tougher line with Moscow. Two days earlier on 13 April, Maas and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed on the need to circumvent the required unanimity on foreign policy issues within the European Union.

The Foreign Affairs Council is expected to discuss additional sanctions on Russia over their actions in Syria during their 16 April meeting to further test the EU’s unity on Russia. Unity is, however, unlikely. Italy is expected to move more towards a reconciliatory position under the likely M5S leadership. Further, the growing influence of the Communists, more radical Social Democrats and pro-Russian President Milos Zeman in the Czech Republic is to increase the pressure on its traditional pro-Western foreign policy. Former Slovakian Premier Robert Fico, who continues to exert backstage control over the new government, already mentioned the EU sanctions on Russia over Ukraine could be cancelled after their last extension. Slovakia further did not join a widespread expulsion of Russian agents over Moscow’s poisoning attack on British soil. The so-called passerelle clause that would allow for qualified majority voting on foreign policy issues could be used for tougher action on Russia or more action in Syria.

About author: Petr Boháček

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