The EU, Its Member States and Their Decisions on Restrictive Measures Against Russia during the Ukraine Crisis

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
S13 (13 rue de l'Université)
Henri Vogt , Politics and Contemporary History, University of Turku
The use of sanctions, or restrictive measures, is an integral element of the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, with clear guidelines set by the Council of the EU in 2005. The guidelines have proven fairly easy to employ, and in most cases sanctions decisions have been passed in the Council without much controversy. The concrete effects of most sanctions on European welfare have appeared limited, and the publics and the media in the member states have silently accepted them. By contrast, the decisions to impose sanctions against Russia due to the country’s policy vis-à-vis Ukraine in 2014 potentially lead to a range of profound political, economic and social consequences; and the views on them have therefore varied enormously between the member states and various societal elites. This paper process-traces the articulations of these different attitudes, both in official documentation and through interviews with core actors, from two different perspectives: a) the controversies among the Euro-elites in Brussels, i.e. within the Council, the EEAS and the Commission b) the differing views of economic and political elites in a selection of member states, including Finland and Estonia which potentially suffer more from sanctions against Russia than EU countries on average. A comparison between the national and supranational levels provides a good starting point for understanding the general trajectories of EU foreign policy in cases where core European values and welfare are in danger of being compromised.