What's New(s)

What's New(s) - A landmark boycott

What's New(s) - A landmark boycott

A landmark oil ban’ that is how the Guardian described the new EU sanction package on Russia, including a new almost full embargo on Russian oil. The Ukrainian president’s office, however, claims the sanctions are ‘not enough’. What does the European press write about these new far-reaching sanctions ?

Good morning Erik, yes, this new oil ban by the EU can indeed by seen as far-reaching. Late Monday night, EU leaders agreed on a political deal to impose sanctions on Russian oil imports. POLITICO quoted Commission President Von der Leyen, who tweeted that the agreement will effectively cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of the year. President of the Council Charles Michel looked less far into the future, announcing that the sanctions will immediately impact 75% of Russian oil imports, “cutting a huge source of financing for its war machine” wrote the Guardian. Several EU diplomats told POLITICO that Seaborne shipments will be blocked by the end of the year and Germany and Poland committed themselves to a de facto shutdown of the northern Druzhba pipeline. EU’s foreign chief Josep Borrell also showed to be euphoric about the new deal calling it a ‘landmark decision.“Our unity is our strength” he added.

Borrell indeed used the word unity, but not all countries actually agreed to commit, didn’t they? Is unity indeed the word that can be used in this context?

Indeed, ‘unity’ might be a bit too euphoric in this case, since, as underlined by POLITICO, EU leaders had to capitulate to the demands of Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán, granting Budapest a near total exemption from the ban. “Slapping an embargo on Russian oil would be one of Europe’s most significant steps in restricting Putin’s revenue to wage war in Ukraine”, but the move was held up by Hungary, stated the newspaper. Not only Hungary, but also Czech Republic and Slovakia are allowed to keep their supplies. Rather than describing the agreement as a landmark deal, various media called it a compromise. Contrary to Borrell, Charles Michel acknowledged the lack of European unity in a press conference on Monday night, adding that it is, now more than ever, important to show that “we are able to be strong (...), to be tough.” The Guardian wrote that the bloc has come under increasing criticism for slow progress in agreeing on the new sanction package, including from president Zelensky, who called on the bloc’s leaders to end their disputes. Orbán himself reacted with a gloating statement on Facebook, adding an exclamation mark after “Hungary is exempt from the oil embargo!” He also declared that Hungarians could sleep soundly now that they are protected from expensive fuel costs that the embargo brings to the rest of Europe, added the BBC. So even if the deal was perceived by European media as a far-reaching agreement with important consequences, they also underlined the cracks and divisions within the Union when it comes to taking a stand against Russia.

But then moving on to France, which made the European headlines once again this week. This time the scandal was because of… a football match? 

Shocking is the best word to define the spectacle beyond the pitch at last week's Champions League final in Paris. The Guardian describes the scenes seen in the surroundings of the Stade de France as chaotic as security checks led to bottlenecks and police deployed pepper spray or tear gas against football fans. Jason Burt, Telegraph reporter, was caught in one of the police raids and was pepper-sprayed while interviewing a Liverpool fan. Many Spaniards stated that the police had to act because there were groups of criminals trying to steal tickets and enter the stadium. The family of some Madrid players complained in the newspaper El Mundo about the climate of insecurity and violence in the stadium before the final. But that’s not the official version of the French authorities. 

And what do French authorities say then?

EFE highlights that the French authorities laid the blame on the tens of thousands of Liverpool fans who travelled to Paris without tickets or with fake tickets and on "industrial level" ticket fraud. As you can imagine, the British tabloids have been particularly critical and have attacked the attitude of UEFA and the French government in accusing British fans of causing the problems. According to David Maddock, the Mirror, the organisation was not just inadequate; it totally failed - to a criminal level. RTBF described the episode as a fiasco and stressed that it was time for France to explain what had happened. UEFA will launch an independent investigation into the incident. after many supporters and others present at the game have contested the claims by the French authorities, says Mark Odgen ESPN. France 24 regrets that the scenes tarnished the image of the French capital, raising questions about its ability to host sporting events as it gears up for the 2024 Olympics.