BEIRUT (Dispatches) – The European Union (EU) says it will create a sanctions regime targeting officials in Lebanon, which has been grappling with an economic crisis amid a failure to form a new government.
The decision came during a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the European officials had “reached a political understanding that a sanctions regime against those who are responsible for the situation should be established.”
“I can say that the objective is to complete this by the end of the month. I am not talking about the implementation of the regime, just the building of the regime according to [a] sound legal basis,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels.
The EU, led by France — the former colonizer of Lebanon — is seeking to ramp up pressure on the Lebanese authorities in an attempt to force the formation of a Western-friendly government.
A French Cabinet minister also criticized Lebanese leaders on Tuesday, warning them of upcoming sanctions from Paris that will target Lebanese officials blocking the formation of a new government.
The remarks by France’s Foreign Trade Minister Franck Riester came during a visit to Beirut’s port, devastated in a massive explosion in August last year.
Lebanon is going through an unprecedented economic and financial crisis, made worse by a political deadlock that’s left the country without a fully functioning government since August.
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government resigned days after hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material used in fertilizers that had been improperly stored in the port for years, exploded on Aug. 4, killing 211 people. It also injured more than 6,000 and damaged entire neighborhoods of Beirut.
Since then, Lebanese political groups have failed to resolve their differences and form a government.