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EU paves way for sanctions against Lebanese political elite over ongoing crisis

Bloc’s foreign policy chief says top diplomats from 27 nations gave green light to establish legal framework for measures against Beirut leaders who have driven economic collapse

Scooter drivers waiting outside a gas station in Lebanon's capital Beirut raise their middle fingers in protest against hikes in the price of fuel, June 29, 2021. (Joseph Eid/AFP)
Scooter drivers waiting outside a gas station in Lebanon's capital Beirut raise their middle fingers in protest against hikes in the price of fuel, June 29, 2021. (Joseph Eid/AFP)

BRUSSELS — EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed to move ahead towards sanctions against Lebanon’s ruling elite over the political crisis wracking the country, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said.

Josep Borrell said the top diplomats from the 27 nations gave the green light at a meeting in Brussels to establish a legal framework for measures against Lebanese leaders who have driven their nation into economic collapse.

“The objective is to complete this by the end of the month,” Borrell said.

A political crisis has left the country without a functioning government since the last one resigned after a massive explosion killed dozens and destroyed swathes of Beirut in August 2020.

“The economy’s imploding and the suffering of the people of Lebanon is continuously growing,” Borrell said.

“They need to have a Lebanese government in order to avoid the breakdown of the country, (one that is) fully able to implement reforms and protect this population.”

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Lucian Aurescu (L) talks with Slovakian Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Ivan Korcok (C) and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau during a Foreign Affairs Council meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on July 12, 2021. (JOHN THYS / AFP)

Lebanon is mired in what the World Bank has called one of the worst economic crises since the 1850s, and the cash-strapped state is struggling to buy enough fuel to keep the lights on.

The economic crisis has seen the Lebanese pound lose more than 90 percent of its value against the dollar on the black market, and left more than half the population living below the poverty line.

In April, France imposed sanctions by restricting entry of Lebanese figures it says are responsible for the political crisis.

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