The European Union is ready to bear the economic pain of imposing sanctions on Russia, which is likely to come mainly from higher energy prices, top EU finance officials said on Friday.
EU leaders agreed on Thursday to impose new sanctions on Russia's financial, energy and transport sectors, introduce export controls, and blacklist more Russians following President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine.
Trade Revenues to Fall
This means countries that sell their products to Russia will see trade revenues fall. Russia, Europe's main energy supplier, could retaliate by curbing gas, oil and coal sales to the EU, though this would be costly for Moscow.
"Of course we will pay a price economically for this war," European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on arriving for EU finance ministers' talks in Paris.
"We will discuss this today, how this war will impact in our economic forecasts," he said. "I think that... the costs of reacting to this invasion, to this violation of international law, are costs that we must afford."
The European Central Bank's chief economist Philip Lane has told fellow policymakers the Ukraine conflict may reduce the euro zone's GDP by 0.3%-0.4% this year.
EU 4.0% GDP Growth Now Uncertain
The European Commission forecast earlier in February that economic growth in the 19 countries sharing the euro would be 4.0% this year, already below the 4.3% expected last November, because of more COVID-19 infections, supply chain bottlenecks and record high inflation caused by energy prices.
Gentiloni has said the Russian invasion of Ukraine now made the 4.0% growth forecast more uncertain.
"We will have a discussion on how we can protect our people and our economies, there are of course consequences in the energy sectors for example, but we are prepared," German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said.
His French counterpart Bruno Le Maire said the sanctions would be painful mainly for Russia.
"It will be the Russian economy that will pay the price for the decision of Vladimir Putin. It will be the Russian oligarchs that will pay for the foolish decisions of Vladimir Putin," he told reporters.
The EU is drafting plans to reduce its reliance on Russian gas.
"We are proposing common European procurement of natural gas, setting up strategic reserves of gas so that we reduce our dependence on Russian supplies," European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said.
Finding Other Suppliers
"We are talking with other suppliers this week. The prime minister of Norway was in Brussels this week. Certainly we need to strengthen our resilience against Russia's possible market manipulation," he added.
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