Brussels meeting will see EU consider further sanctions in Venezuela and a stronger call for elections

The EU Foreign Affairs Council meets in Brussels today for a broad discussion on current affairs. Delegates will likely devote

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The EU Foreign Affairs Council meets in Brussels today for a broad discussion on current affairs.

Delegates will likely devote considerable attention to the Venezuela refugee crisis. On September 27, the Council issued a declaration expressing concern over “serious human rights violations” and calling on the international community to address the “humanitarian and social emergency” in the country.

With the UN recently predicting that the total number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants will surpass 6.5 million in 2020, the crisis is only likely to be exasperated in the coming year. Venezuela’s Latin American neighbours, such as Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Brazil, are bearing the burden of housing hundreds of thousands of these refugees—a worsening of the refugee crisis will likely lead to greater regional instability.

The immediate response to today’s meeting will likely be an expansion of the existing sanctions list. Currently only 25 government officials and security and intelligence forces are being targeted. Five or more names could be added to the list.

The response today could also include another policy declaration more forcefully calling for President Nicolas Maduro to allow genuine elections to choose a successor. While sanctions are unlikely to be persuasive in a country that has long suffered from the economic burdens of hyperinflation and high unemployment, a more forceful policy statement will at least politically put more pressure on Caracas to implement democratic reform.