The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has cleared the EU’s decision to extend its trade sanctions relating Crimea & Sevastopol, imposed after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, until 23 June 2017. The Government made clear to the Committee that it supports the continuation of these measures.
The Committee noted the comments of Minister for Trade and Investment Lord Price, that the aim of these measures is not to punish / harm Crimean people, but “to make it more difficult for Russia to integrate the Crimean economy and develop it into a “showcase” for its policies in Ukraine and the Crimea”. It criticised the EU Commission and Council secretariats for failing to circulate related documents in a timely manner, and marking them as private where doing so was unnecessary. The Committee referred to “a seeming indifference on the part of the Commission and Council secretariat towards the House’s scrutiny requirements. Sometimes this manifests itself by their not circulating texts, without justification, until the last minute; sometimes by their likewise using the limité privacy marking without due cause, and always taking however long they choose to take to remove this caveat. It would appear that the Minister for Europe has made no progress in persuading the Commission and Council secretariat with regard to the overuse of this marking… All of this matters because, so long as thus caveated, any document in question cannot be used by the Committee because it is not in the public domain, leaving the Committee in the hands of the Government because the responsible Minister then decides what he will say about its contents.”