German ex-chancellor Schroeder under EU pressure to quit Rosneft


FILE PHOTO: Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is pictured during an interview with Reuters in his office in Berlin, Germany, November 15, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch//File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament is set to urge the blacklisting of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder if he does not quit as a board member of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft.

The draft resolution, which also applies to Karin Kneissl, a former Austrian foreign minister under the government of Sebastian Kurz, is supported by the four biggest political groups in the EU assembly but is still subject to minor changes.

Critics blame Schroeder, who as chancellor sponsored the building of more gas pipelines, for deepening Germany's energy dependence on a neighbour that has now turned hostile.

Schroeder was not immediately available for comment.

The Parliament "notes that former politicians (..) have recently resigned from their positions in Russian firms and strongly demands that others, such as Karin Kneissl and Gerhard Schroeder, do the same," the draft document says.

The text is set to be adopted later on Thursday. It is not binding, but it represents a significant pressure on the EU to act against Europeans seen as being close to the Kremlin.

So far the EU has agreed to freeze the assets of hundreds of oligarchs and officials linked to the Kremlin, as part of steps against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, but has refrained from directly targeting Europeans with top jobs at Russian firms which are seen as supporting the military operation in Ukraine.

The Parliament urges "to extend the list of individuals targeted by EU sanctions to the European members of the boards of major Russian companies and to politicians who continue to receive Russian money."

"By serving in top positions of Kremlin-affiliated corporations, the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is de facto closely cooperating with Russia," said centre-right lawmaker Markus Ferber, who helped draft the resolution.

A spokesman for the EU foreign policy department had no comment on the parliament's resolution but stressed that individual sanctions needed evidence and the backing of all 27 governments.

Schroeder is also chairman of the shareholders' committee of the company in charge of building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia, a project now shelved.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio, Additional reporting by John O'Donnell in Frankfurt, Editing by William Maclean)

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