POLITICO: The clash between Italy and Poland over rubber threatened to reject the EU’s 10th package of sanctions against Russia

Ambassador Andre Sados. picture. Stephanie Lecoq Papp/EPA

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

Politico writes that both Italy and Poland have delved into the rubber issue, with Poland arguing that Russia’s proposed synthetic rubber import quotas are too high, and Italy saying they are not. EU diplomats told Politico that Germany initially questioned the quotas, but was willing to agree to them as long as there was a sufficient transition period.

Italy won, at least as far as the rubber was concerned, Politico wrote.

The amount of synthetic rubber remained at the proposed level of about PLN 560,000. tons by the end of the transition period at the end of June 2024. However, to reassure Poland, the European Commission will launch a monitoring mechanism and will report on the outflow of this product from Russia on a monthly basis. In the event of irregularities, it may institute restrictive measures.

Sadoy: We don’t want to obscure the entire package because of the elastomer

“We are very unhappy about this. But we don’t want to stop the whole package because of the synthetic rubber,” Polish Ambassador to the European Union Andrzej Sadoc told Politico.

But Warsaw does not think it has lost this battle, Politico writes. In return for the retraction, the EU imposed other sanctions called for by the Polish government, Sadoc reported. For example, the commission promised to broaden the range of penalties for people or entities involved in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children.

“It was our top priority.” Sados added.

Speculation about the motives of both sides increased in the hours preceding the agreement to adopt the new sanctions package. A senior EU diplomat said Italy’s resistance to cutting rubber quotas stemmed from “significant commercial interests” such as influence over tire giant Pirelli, as well as domestic policy considerations. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing coalition is divided over the issue of his stance on Russia.

Meanwhile, Warsaw found itself in a similar crossfire, according to Politico. “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 agree to the package to its “disguised economic interests”. Saadoudi denied the allegations. To say that Poland benefits from the war is unacceptable. “This is a lie,” he said. “No one should benefit from war,” he added. (PAP)

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