The EU and its 28 member states have refused to recognise Venezuela’s new constituent assembly, saying its disputed election on Sunday has “durably worsened” the situation in the country.
But there was no move by the bloc to impose sanctions against Caracas even as Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief, said Brussels and member states were ready to “gradually step up their response” if democratic principles are further undermined.
Spain has pressed for European sanctions against Venezuela, a move that would follow targeted US penalties against the country. But Greece has strongly resisted Spain’s demands, effectively ruling out the immediate prospect of European sanctions that cannot go ahead without unanimous support from member states.
In a statement on Wednesday after diplomats in Brussels took stock of the escalating political crisis in Caracas, Ms Mogherini said the new body had given an excuse to drive conflict and use power unchecked to all Venezuelans opposed to serious talks.
“The EU and its member states therefore cannot recognise the constituent assembly as they have concerns over its effective representativeness and legitimacy and call on the government of president Nicolas Maduro to take urgent measures to rectify the course of events,” she said.
“In particular, the effective installation of the constituent assembly should be suspended and the attributions of all institutions foreseen by the constitution should be explicitly recognised.”