POLITICO: Italy-Poland standoff over rubber threatens to reject 10th EU sanctions against Russia

Ambassador Andrzej Sados. Photograph. Stephanie Lecoq PAP/EPA

The European Union reached a last-minute deal on sanctions against Russia after Italy clashed with Poland over a cap on imports of synthetic rubber from Russia, Politico reported Saturday.

Both Italy and Poland write in digs on the rubber issue, with Poland arguing that the proposed synthetic rubber import quotas from Russia are too high, and Italy arguing that they are not. Germany also initially questioned the quotas, EU diplomats told Politico, but was willing to agree to them as long as there was an adequate transition period.

And Italy wins, at least as far as rubber is concerned, writes Politico.

The volume for synthetic rubber was approximately PLN 560,000 at the intended level. Tonnes at the end of the transition period at the end of June 2024. However, to reassure Poland, the European Commission will start a monitoring mechanism and report on monthly basis the arrivals of this product from Russia. In case of irregularities, it may institute control measures.

Sadoś: We didn’t want to block the whole collection because of synthetic rubber

“We are not very happy about it,” Andrzej Sadoś, Poland’s ambassador to the EU, told Politico. “But we don’t want to block the whole package because of synthetic rubber.”

However, Politico writes that Warsaw does not believe it has lost the fight. Sados said the European Union introduced other sanctions called for by the Polish government in return for repentance. For example, the commission has pledged to extend sanctions to individuals or organizations involved in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children.

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“It’s our top priority.” Sados added.

Speculation about the intentions of both sides mounted in the hours leading up to the agreement to adopt the new sanctions package. A senior EU diplomat said Italy’s opposition to lower rubber quotas stemmed from “big business interests” such as influence over tire giant Pirelli and domestic policy considerations; Prime Minister Georgia Meloni’s right-wing coalition is divided over its approach to Russia.

Meanwhile, Warsaw, according to Politico, finds itself at a similar crossroads. “It makes sense primarily for the Polish rubber industry,” a diplomat from another EU country said of Poland’s position, attributing Warsaw’s earlier refusal to accept the package to “its thinly veiled economic interests”. Sados denied these claims. “It is unacceptable to say that Poland benefited from the war. This is a lie,” he said. He also said that no honest person should profit from war. (PAB)

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