Commissioner: EU should have been "faster" on Libya sanctions
Feb 28, 2011, 19:13 GMT
Brussels - The European Union should have moved 'even faster' in approving sanctions on Libya, an official from the bloc said Monday in an unusually blunt admission.
The EU announced an arms embargo as well as an asset freeze and visa ban on 26 members of Libya's ruling elite, including embattled leader Moamer Gaddafi, two days after Saturday's United Nations Security Council resolution calling for sanctions on Tripoli's regime.
However, the possibility of sanctions was already raised at a meeting on February 21 of the Council of EU foreign ministers, where Italy led opposition against the move.
'Several of us would have liked to see sanctions decided during the council and applied even faster,' EU neighbourhood policy commissioner Stefan Fule told the European Parliament in Brussels, according to a copy of his speech distributed to the press.
However, Fule said he was 'pleased that the decision was finally taken' on Monday, with the EU extending the UN sanctions by imposing an embargo on non-lethal equipment used for repression and by enlarging the visa and asset freeze list to 10 additional people.
With United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton telling reporters in Geneva that 'in the coming days you will see the EU take additional steps,' an EU source said the bloc was mulling extending further the asset freeze, targeting EU companies with links to Libya.
'This is a very serious concern and we are looking into it,' the diplomat said.
Another diplomat said the measure could be decided at the next round of talks of EU foreign ministers, due to take place on March 21 - unless an extraordinary meeting is called earlier.
The decision could prove sensitive for Italy, where several high- profile companies, such as energy giant ENI, the Unicredit banking group, the Finmeccanica defence firm and the Juventus football club are partly owned by Libyan interests.
Read more about EU
Read more about Libya Unrest