Brok: ‘Economic sanctions are much more costly for Europe than for America’


Elmar Brok, an influential German centre-right MEP, expressed frustration over the US approach to the Crimea crisis, warning Washington to show greater tact when speaking about the EU’s Ukraine policy and potential sanctions on Russia. EurActiv Germany reports.

Speaking to foreign correspondents in Berlin on Monday (17 March), Brok called on the United States not to lose sight of the facts when it calls the shots in Ukraine.

"Regarding the US, I would like to be clear,” said Brok, who hails from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.

“Economic sanctions are much more costly for Europe than for America. The US contributed €700 million, while the European Union gave €11 billion. The cost of economic sanctions is quite one-sidedly carried by Europe and not by the US," he told journalists.

Brok is chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament and an influential figure in the CDU. Speaking in Berlin on Monday, Brok said he would "be delighted if our American friends would take [these sums] into account when they give public statements."

The Christian Democrat MEP said it would be helpful if different starting positions were respected and not attacked - directly or indirectly, referring to the recent words of US diplomat Victoria Nuland who famously said "Fuck the EU" in early February.

Brok cited Iran sanctions as another example. "The Americans did not receive any oil from Iran, so they can easily carry out sanctions. But a country like Greece received 60% of its supply from Iran at that time. Implementing this in Greece – considering its difficult economic situation – should be considered an accomplishment at the very least and not be taken for granted."

Budapest Memorandum

Additionally, Brok said he would be interested in American behaviour as a guarantor of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which commits the US, the United Kingdom and Russia to respect the sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus in return for nuclear disarmament.

But since Moscow broke the memorandum by annexing Crimea, Brok said "the two other partners – the US and the UK – have yet to come up with any consequences for this behaviour."

Step-by-step sanctions give diplomacy a chance

Monday's comments by Brok took place just after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Speaking with journalists, the MEP revealed the second level of sanctions against Russia, including travel restrictions and freezing assets.

But the list of sanctions is still open and expandable, with the third level of sanctions ready to be initiated within days or weeks, depending on the situation's evolution on the ground. European heads of states and governments are gathering in Brussels this week (20-21 March) for an EU summit meeting.

According to Brok, the meeting with Merkel unanimously decided that developments in Crimea were a double violation of international human rights - namely the Russian troop invasion, and the one-sided implementation of the referendum on Crimea's attachment to Russia, which violates the Ukrainian constitution.

"The sanctioning mechanism is clear. I hope that there will now be willingness to talk. But acceptance of the status quo does not belong among the topics for discussion. Rather the discussion should consider the entire situation – including restoration of international human rights law on the Crimea," Brok said.

The purpose of step-by-step sanctions is not to punish, but rather to repeatedly offer diplomatic solutions a chance, Brok explained. The EU's policy so far has by no means failed he said, indicating, "the alternative would have been sending troops."

Brok emphasised again: "War is eliminated. But diplomacy and economic instruments take more time to realise. At some point, Russia will have to recognise that it is much worse off under Cold War conditions, with less economic relations."

"We are by no means defenceless,” Brok said, describing the situation in Germany as an example of Europe’s economic strength. Germany currently exports €38 billion in goods and services to Russia annually, he explained, but within the EU Germany sells goods and services amounting to €650 billion. "That means, we sell much more to the Netherlands than to Russia."

  • 20-21 March: EU summit in Brussels
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John's picture

Brok, the quintessential Eurocrat. He's upset because no one listens to him. He should leave political decisions to national elected officials.

Mike Parr's picture

John can you read? "the quintessential Eurocrat"

Elmar Brok, a German centre-right MEP is a politician - he is elected whatever else he is he ain't a bureaucrat.

"He should leave political decisions to national elected officials"

Brok is a politician & thus "political decisions" is what he "does".

You refer to "national elected officials" well you can have elected politicans, and you can have officials (i.e. bureacrats) - but that phrase contains two mutually exclusive words - suggesting that you have no idea what you are saying.

John's picture

Oh, Mike Parr. You are upset because Brok has nothing effective to say, except to show how inept the political body he represents, which is the way it should be.

EU politicians have made themselves irrelevant in this fight. Get over it.

Mike Parr's picture

Nope not upset - if you have a criticism - make it coherent - otherwise you just make yourself look..... stupid.

But I did not see a coherent criticism....???

an european's picture

As i already posted before on relevant topics.
People of Transnistria in Moldova want to be annexed to Russia too and of course Mockba will approve further annexations like a Pac-Man game.
Hoping that the DDR will not resurrect.

About violation : There will be maybe Moldova a double + single in other word a triple violation of international human rights

Has the E.U. to apply more costly sanctions to Russia?
No , why ?
Putin shows unimpressed about sanctions in general!
This KGB man has a firm personality with less motion than an aggressive doberman.

"Step-by-step sanctions give diplomacy a chance"
Really ? I would never bet there is a slightly one!

He will merely cut off energy Gas/Petrol exports to the E.U.!

At least we should reconsiderin' ourself the 10% of shale gas .
Why not using this costs of a beginning for an united defense as well for border controls!
UnUnited Europe is being eaten by former CCCP man ...

Jack C.'s picture

I think both Americans and Europeans should realize that it's a lot easier to give up wealth then HUMAN LIFE. Putin has shown that he does not value human life, based on how many of his own people he has exterminated over the years. His mafia buddies only want one thing, that's wealth. If America and Europe can destroy their ability to make that wealth, then his own mafia will resolve the Putin problem. The only concern, is how deep has his mafia infiltrated in to your government and is it willing to let sanctions work before we talk about stacking up human bodies in caskets to prove whose stronger. America has been defending Europe and patrolling the world oceans since WW2, at great human cost as well as financial cost. So as an American, I am amazed when I here someone say how easy it is for America to suggest sanctions when it cost America so little. Please bone up on how much America spends on defense to help protect every NATO country. Of course, we are greedy Americans who only think of themselves!!!
Jack C.

United Alliance's picture

The 11 Billion € of money Europe could be useful spent on an united defense strategy than to sanctions !
We have tons of Eurofighters ! So let's build an E.U. nuke Submarine or the biggest world aircraft carrier maybe called E.U. Europa or any united weapons at least that so called "sanctions" money will not be thrown through the windows...

ironworker's picture

"Step by step sanctions" = do whatever it takes not to disrupt the gas coming from Putin's backyard.

Jack C's picture

Do the people of Europe really think that Putin will stop at Ukraine, he will continue to smile and wave at his comrades as they continue to plot and rape Europe of all it resources and wealth to become the SUPERPOWER, he so desires. The people of Europe should plan for many cold winters ahead and start building caskets, you will most likely need those as well. PUTIN HAS NO VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE, and only aspires to go down as the man who rebuilt the USSR to the superpower it once was. Let's see, Stalin killed and estimated 30 MILLION people to achieve that dream. Europe, I pray for you and wish you Luck, because you will need both to survive this monster who is so loved by his people.
Jack C.

Jack C's picture

Just to make Europeans aware, the United States us 33,600 troops in NATO, followed by Great Britain at 5,600 and all other NATO countries contribute 18,486 as of NATO' s February 2014 report. As far as funding, the United States and Germany pay a greater sum because it's based on each countries income, and this two countries have the stronger economy's. All said an done, the United States is and has always contributed greatly to support NATO and are allies. Based on whats happening in Europe today, each and every country must reevaluate what they are currently spending now versus what they really need to spend to keep your borders secure. You cannot expect the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Japan, Italy, Australia and the other stronger NATO industrialized countries to always bear the burden of defending the global economic countries. It's time that this burden is shared equally by all countries and each country has its own military strength to protect its borders. You cannot move men and equipment on a moment's notice, it takes great planning to have the support structure at hand when those soldiers need it or their doomed to failure. This requires vast resources and planning which is why Putin is knocking on Ukraine's door and has everything pre-positioned to support his,troops. Don't think for a minute that these a military exercises on the border of Ukraine. He is ex KGB and don't forget that for one moment. He has learned from the best and has every plan on using this to stay one step ahead of the trusting ignorant people that believe his lies and do nothing to prepare.
Jack C.


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