12:41 Jun. 23, 2016
The restrictions were previously agreed on the level of member states' ambassadors to the E.U.
Italy has once again delayed an attempt to extend the European Union's economic sanctions against Russia, despite an accord reached by E.U. diplomats earlier in the week for sanctions to be prolonged by another six months.
E.U. sources tell that Rome wants language included in the conclusions of the EU's June 28-29 summit before it signs off on the deal to extend the sanctions. Italy wants the summit conclusions to acknowledge a commitment for Brussels to review Russian policy later in 2016.
On June 21st, ambassadors from all 28 E.U. countries agreed to extend the sanctions imposed over Russia's occupation and illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and Moscow's support for pro-Russia separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.
Both the United Kingdom and France agreed to the extension, but only with a so-called parliamentary reserve. That means the ambassadors must first consult their national parliaments on the issue before signing off on the extension of sanctions.
Italy did not indicate any conditions during the June 21st meeting of E.U. ambassadors. Now Rome is insisting on the inclusion of special language in the text of the E.U. summit conclusions. That move is similar to what happened in December 2015 when Rome agreed to extend the current sanctions through the end of July.
E.U. diplomats told they have no doubt about the eventual extension of the sanctions, which target Russia's banking and energy sectors as well as individuals in Russia.
But Italy's latest demand means a final decision on extending the sanctions against Russia is likely to be postponed until after the gathering of E.U. leaders in late June.