The EU has
"http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/dd7778f2-d55f-11e0-bd7e-00144feab49a.html?ftcamp=rss">banned imports of crude oil from Syria. This is being touted as a major success for the EU, displaying the
ability of governments to act collectively. Oil sanctions on Syria should, theoretically, impede President Assad: 95 per cent of Syria’s oil is exported to Europe, worth roughly £3bn a
year. Germany and Italy are the premier destinations.
This is a welcome move against a brutal tyranny, but the embargo is not the total success that it might have been. Italy was stalling earlier in the week, trying to defer the deal’s
implementation until 30th November 2011, when existing contracts expired. Other European countries were pushing for a more immediate ban, but Italy was largely successful: the embargo will not be
introduced until the 15th November.
Several European and Whitehall officials tacitly agreed with the view that this was more cop-out than compromise. However, all of those officials said that this was how the European Union worked
behind closed doors, even on a moral issue. As one official put it, “This is the EU. It’s better to have something than no agreement at all”.