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30 November, 2022
 
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EU flip flops on Russian coal after Cyprus cries foul

Nicosia and its shipping sector breathe sigh of relief after Brussels updates FAQ on Russian sanctions

Newsroom

The shipping industry in the Republic of Cyprus can breathe a sigh of relief after the European Commission eased sanctions against Russian coal, following objection from Nicosia that saw stricter guidelines as a direct blow to its competitive advantage.

Last week the European Commission shocked ship owners and shipping insurance companies when it published a new guidance allowing the transfer of coal and fertilizer to countries outside the bloc amid other sanctions against Russia.

Based on a previous guideline from Brussels, sanctions did not allow actors and companies within the EU to transfer coal and other services from Russia to third countries. 

'If we were to listen to the Brussels bureaucrats, the first to pay the cost will certainly not be Russia and its energy exports but the merchant shipping sectors of Greece, Cyprus and possibly Malta'

But last week a clarification from the European Commission said the transfer of goods including coal "should be allowed to combat food and energy insecurity around the world.”

The U-turn came after strong objections from Nicosia, according to Philenews, which reported on Monday that Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades and Deputy Shipping Minister Vassilios Demetriades had brought up the issue and sought clarification on a recent FAQ from Brussels.

Philenews said Nicosia had taken up the issue all the way to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, calling for a new Frequently Asked Questions sheet to be updated with new guidance.

Last week Anastasiades said his government was taking steps to minimize negative effects of EU sanctions against Russia on the island’s shipping sector “to maintain to the maximum extent possible the competitiveness of European shipping and, by extension, the Cypriot and Greek flags.”

“If we were to listen to the Brussels bureaucrats, the first to pay the cost will certainly not be Russia and its energy exports but the merchant shipping sectors of Greece, Cyprus and possibly Malta,” Anastasiades told the Cyprus Union of Shipowners last week.

The Cypriot government, which supports sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, has been voicing concerns that ships could easily change their flags to continue exporting Russian goods to other countries, while this would damage EU member states that have a strong presence in shipping, such as Cyprus, Greece, and Malta.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Russia  |  EU  |  coal  |  sanctions  |  shipping  |  Anastasiades  |  Ursula von der Leyen  |  insurance  |  maritime

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