Brussels’ recent sanctions against Russia demonstrate how the bloc is beginning to show its “power”, according to a former director-general of the World Trade Organisation.
Pascal Lamy was speaking to Euronews exclusively after the EU flexed its economic muscles through the adoption of several rounds of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Although using trade as a weapon is nothing new to Brussels and the West, the former EU trade Commissioner says there is a difference today.
“This time it is the proportion that has changed because Russia is a big player in a number of markets. In particular energy and food. And that the West is reacting by hitting Russia’s weak point, which is its economy,” Lamy told Euronews.
Russia is one of the top three oil producers. It has 20% of the world’s gas reserves. Moscow is also an agricultural power, as the country is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, raising questions about the consequences of sanctions.
But through these measures, the EU is also building up their commercial and strategic autonomy, according to Lamy.
“Little by little, yes, the European Union is progressing towards, let’s say, the shores of power that a certain number of Europeans dream of, not all of them, including in terms of trade policy. Little by little, by building up its arsenal, I believe that this is the case,” Lamy said.
“And then there are more symbolic measures such as exporting lethal weapons to a country at war. And I think that here we have effectively taken another step towards what is beginning to resemble a European power, even if there is still a long way to go.