Strasbourg, 11 February 2020
Check against delivery!
Muchas gracias Señor Presidente.
The current subject of debate concerns an alleged breach of European Union sanctions currently in force vis-a-vis Venezuela. These were put in place in 2017 as part of the European Union's efforts to foster a credible and meaningful process that can lead to a peaceful negotiated solution for the reinstatement of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela.
These measures include a travel ban and assets freeze regarding 25 individuals, among them the Vice President of Venezuela, Delcy Eloina Rodriguez Gomes, [who is] included on this list, having been designated by the European Union on the 25th of June 2018.
A travel ban requires European Union Member States to take the necessary measures to prevent the entry into, or transit through, their territories of the listed persons.
As you know, there is a division of competences in the area of sanctions within the European Union. First of all, Member States are responsible in all cases for the implementation and verification of sanctions adopted by the European Union in their own jurisdictions.
Therefore, when the issue of a possible violation of sanctions arises, for example an assets freeze or as here - a travel ban, it is for the Member State concerned to investigate and determine whether this has in fact been the case.
As regards the wider oversight of the implementation of sanctions, the European Commission has an overall monitoring role concerning the uniform application of such measures in areas within its competence. For example, this is the case for assets freezes and sectoral measures, but this is not the case for travel bans or arms embargoes.
We can discuss the political appropriateness for Member States to give this competence to the European Union, although this would require a Treaty change. But the situation for the time being is clear, the Commission cannot initiate any infringement procedure regarding a possible travel ban violation. Travel bans are in practice only contained in Council Decisions. Consequently, the Commission does not play a role in monitoring the implementation and cannot initiate an infringement procedure.
As High Representative, talking here from the side of the Council [of the European Union], I am also responsible for ensuring the consistent application of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, including sanctions adopted by Member States in Council. In this context, the European External Action Service, in consultation with the European Commission - where competent - will be directly in touch with European Union Member States regarding alleged violations [of sanctions] in order to ensure that these sanctions are being applied in an homogeneous way in all Member States.
Thank you Mr President.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-184473