PARIS (Reuters) -The European Union said on Friday it has adopted a legal framework for a sanctions regime targeting Lebanese individuals and entities after a year of crisis that has left Lebanon facing financial collapse, hyperinflation and food and fuel shortages.
In a statement, the EU said the framework provided for the possibility of imposing sanctions on those responsible for undermining democracy or the rule of law in Lebanon.
Led by France, the EU is seeking to ramp up pressure on Lebanon’s squabbling politicians, part of broader international efforts to force a stable government capable of carrying out reforms to emerge from political chaos and economic collapse following a blast that ravaged Beirut port.
“It is, however, of the utmost importance that the Lebanese leadership put aside their differences and work together to form a government and enact the measures required to steer the country towards a sustainable recovery,” the EU statement said.
The EU said earlier in July that the sanctions measures would not be immediately implemented.
Under the sanctions regime, some people could face travel bans and asset freezes. Diplomats have said targets are not likely to be decided before the end of the summer. EU persons and entities are also forbidden from making funds available to those listed, the statement said.
Criteria for EU sanctions would include corruption, obstructing efforts to form a government, financial misdeeds and human rights abuses.
The United States welcomes the EU’s move, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement, adding that Washington “looks forward to future cooperation with the EU in our shared efforts.”
(Reporting by John Irish; Additional reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Louise Heavens, Nick Macfie and Will Dunham)