1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

EU threatens to slap sanctions on Lebanon politicians

June 19, 2021

Lebanese political parties have failed to form a new government for the past nine months, deepening the economic and financial turmoil in the country.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell with Lebanese President Michel Aoun
After holding a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Josep Borrell warned the EU could impose sanctions on those responsible for the political stalemateImage: Dalati & Nohra/dpa/picture alliance

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, held talks on Saturday with Lebanese officials in Beirut about the severe political and economic crises facing the Middle Eastern nation.   

After holding a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Borrell warned that the EU could impose sanctions on those responsible for the current political stalemate in the country.

Lebanon has failed to form a new government for months due to disagreements among various political factions.

The government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned days after a massive blast in Beirut on August 4, which killed 211 people and injured more than 6,000.

Diab has been serving as caretaker prime minister since then.

Saad Hariri was named in October to form a new government but he has so far been unsuccessful.

"We cannot understand that nine months after the resignation of a prime minister, there is still no government in Lebanon," Borrell said.

Lebanon has 'no time to waste,' says Borrell

Borrell's comments came amid reports in Lebanese media that France and the EU are putting together proposals for possible travel bans and freezes on assets of some politicians.

Borrell said Lebanese politicians should quickly form a new government, implement reforms and reach a deal with the International Monetary Fund to start getting the country out of its paralyzing economic crisis.

Lebanon's economy shrank 20.3% in 2020 and is expected to contract 9.5% this year, according to the World Bank.

"Only an urgent agreement with the International Monetary Fund will rescue the country from a financial collapse," Borrell said. "There is no time to waste. You are at the edge of the financial collapse."

Borrell said the EU is ready to assist Lebanon but warned that if there is no progress "we will have to consider other courses of actions as some member states have proposed."

"The council of the European Union has been including other options, including targeted sanctions," Borrell said.

During his two-day visit, Borrell is due to separately meet caretaker Prime Minister Diab, as well as prime minister-designate Hariri, Speaker Nabih Berri as well as acting Foreign and Defense Minister Zeina Akar.

He will also hold talks with military commanders and representatives of civil society.  

sri/jlw (AP, dpa)